The Environmental Pros and Cons of Veganism
Veganism is on the rise across the globe, driven in part by the fact that there are three good reasons to adopt a plant-based diet. It’s better for the animals, it’s better for your body, and it’s better for the environment. That’s why scientists are now advising people to eat less meat and dairy and describing it as the single biggest way that we can reduce our impact on the planet.
In fact, animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions at 51%, ahead even of transportation and logistics, and so the first and most obvious pro is that by removing meat and dairy products from your diet, you can instantly cut your carbon footprint in half.
Let’s take a look at some of the other pros and cons of eating a vegan, plant-based diet.
Pro: It’s less wasteful
Raising animals takes huge amounts of food, and we often feed them with grains and beans that could be used to feed human beings. In fact, the world’s farmers grow enough food to feed 10 billion people, but we feed that food to animals instead. In many cases, we even take food away from the areas that need it the most so that we can feed animals in factory farms for first world dinner plates.
Pro: It uses less land
Because a plant-based diet is inherently less wasteful, it means that it takes up less land. We’re not just talking about the land saved through the removal of factory farms. Fewer animals also means that less food is needed and so less land is taken up by crops that are destined to be fed to livestock.
Pro: It uses less water
Fresh water is a valuable commodity in today’s day and age, especially thanks to widespread water pollution. Only 2.5% of the water on our planet is fresh, and 70% of that is frozen solid as ice. Many parts of the world are so in need of water that people are dying of thirst or drinking dirty water just to stay alive. Animals need water too, and lots of it. In fact, a beef burger uses over 14 times more water to make than a soy burger. Just one burger requires 2,350 litres.
Con: Soy is being planted in what used to be the rainforest
Some people point out that in some former areas of rainforest, soy has been planted in the land that was cleared. This is true enough, but it fails to take into account that the majority of that soy is being fed to animals. That means that veganism is still a better alternative than eating meat and doing even more damage.
Pro: It makes you more empathetic
Phillip Roth of essayontime.co.uk has written a paper on the subject. He says, “A recent study from scientists at Southampton University found that vegans and vegetarians are more intelligent than meat eaters. There’s evidence to show that vegans have higher levels of empathy as well, although it may simply be that people with higher levels of empathy are more likely to become a vegan.” Higher levels of empathy mean that you’re more likely to take care of the planet.
Pro: It reduces pollution
Farming animals leads to huge amounts of pollution, especially because factory farms typically use large slurry pits that can overflow and get into groundwater. Huge numbers of animals means huge amounts of urine and feces, and it all has to go somewhere. Some American communities are even suffering from illnesses and disease thanks to nearby factory farms.
The main idea behind veganism is to do as little harm as possible. Realistically, it’s impossible to live a life that’s totally neutral and in which you do no harm at all. Instead, veganism is all about keeping the damage as low as possible so that future generations can continue to enjoy the planet. After all, it’s not like we have another one. Bon appetite!