How Does Veganism Help the Environment (Explained)

Veganism is a diet and lifestyle choice that does not exploit or use animals in any way. There is a focus on the diet aspect as vegans do not consume any animal products, like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and even honey.

Veganism also extends to other areas of life, as those following this lifestyle will avoid anything that involves the exploitation of animals, like not purchasing leather, cosmetics that have been tested on animals, and even medication that contains animal products.

Vegans believe in the ethical treatment of animals and that all living creatures have a right to live in freedom and happiness.

There are different terms in the modern world used to describe dietary choices, and these are sometimes confused with veganism. Those eating a vegetarian diet do not consume meat and fish, but can eat dairy and eggs, and may wear products like leather and wool.

Plant-based is another term that has gained some popularity and is often used interchangeably with the word vegan. However, being plant-based relates specifically to diet, meaning you can be plant-based and not follow the same ethical code as a vegan.

The one common theme with all these diets is that people often make the choice to cut out animal products, to reduce their negative impacts on the environment.

10 Ways That Going Vegan Can Help the Environment

1. Following a Vegan Diet Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse gases, like methane and carbon dioxide, contribute to climate change as they trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere. This causes an increase in global temperatures, leading to catastrophic effects on habitats and wildlife around the world.

Animal agriculture, which includes raising livestock and producing animal feed, is responsible for a massive 60% of direct global greenhouse gas emissions.

Choosing a vegan diet would mean eliminating animal products, and therefore animal agriculture, and would drastically reduce these greenhouse gas emissions.

Every day, the average person who consumes meat eats ten times the amount of animal products needed to stay healthy, meaning those who eat these products are doing so to the excess.

To put this in perspective, even if you were to eat a vegan diet for half of the week, you would reduce your emissions by 15%.

2. Veganism Helps Conserve Water

Water is the basis of life and we use it in a variety of ways, like drinking, cleaning, and food production.

Agriculture, in general, uses large quantities of our available fresh water, but the meat and dairy industry requires the biggest amount with over 25% going directly into raising animals. This is an inefficient use of water, and causes droughts all over the world, as water use is concentrated in specific areas where animals are raised.

By eating a vegan diet, you could save nearly 100,000 liters of water a year, like fruit, vegetable, and grain crops do not require as much water as animal farming. This is beneficial to the environment as water is used less intensively, which leads to a balance within the natural water cycle, helping to prevent droughts and climatic disasters.

3. Eating Vegan would Reduce the Amount of Food we Need to Produce

It is estimated that 90 percent of soybeans produced globally are used in animal feed.

A large amount of land is needed to grow this quantity of soybeans, which could directly feed the millions of people around the world living in food poverty instead of livestock, or this land could be used to grow other kinds of crops in a less intensive way.

Switching to a vegan diet would make our use of the earth more efficient, as less energy is lost when we eat plants directly compared to eating animal products.

To put this in perspective, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy use over 80% of agricultural land, but only provide us with 18% of the calories we consume.

Additionally, an estimated one-third of all our food goes to waste because it is thrown away before it reaches the shelves. Meat, dairy, and eggs have specific sell-by dates and can go off quite quickly, especially when compared to more stable vegetables and grains.

Research has shown that by simply changing our diet to be more plant-based, we could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 8%.

4. Veganism Leads to a Much Smaller Carbon Footprint

Eating a vegan diet has the lowest carbon footprint of popular diets. This is a positive for the environment as less harmful gases are being released into the atmosphere.

Studies show that changing to a vegan diet cuts your carbon footprint in half, as well as sparing the lives of over 772 billion animals each year.

5. A Vegan Diet Leads to Less Destruction of Forests

Deforestation is driven by animal agriculture, as there is an increase in demand for land needed to raise livestock. In fact, within the Amazon Rainforest, it is beef and soy production that are to blame for 60% of the land that is deforested.

In total, around half of the world’s habitable land has been cleared and used for agriculture, with most of this being to raise animals, and this deforestation makes up 11% of all global emissions caused by humans. This is more than the total emissions from all passenger vehicles across the planet.

There are estimates that by choosing a vegan diet, you could reduce the land needed for growing food by over 75%, saving the forest and reducing carbon emissions in the process.

6. Veganism can Help Reverse Biodiversity Loss

The natural world is struggling to keep up with the demand that people put upon it.

A large amount of this pressure stems from animal agriculture, because of the amount of land, water, and resources needed to raise animals. This has negative effects on environmental biodiversity, and it has been estimated that 1 million species are threatened with extinction within mere decades due to loss of habitat and climate change. That will cause the largest loss of species ever recorded, all in our lifetime.

To put this in perspective, there has been a 68% loss in global biodiversity since 1970, according to the Living Planet Index.

Veganism can make a difference to this loss of biodiversity by reducing the amount of land needed to produce food, allowing species numbers to increase, and promoting a more ethical relationship with wildlife.

7. Vegan Diets Reduce Air pollution

When you consider the greenhouse gas emissions that the animal agriculture industry creates, it is easy to see how switching to a vegan diet would therefore also reduce levels of pollution. This is due to less of these gases being released into the atmosphere, which causes global warming and worldwide pollution.

Today, there are over 5 million premature deaths each year due to air pollution, with around 90 percent of the world’s population breathing polluted air. A vegan diet could help to reduce this number and improve the quality of life for people across the planet.

8. A Vegan Lifestyle Reduces Energy Consumption

There is a huge energy cost associated with animal agriculture because of the production of animal feed, transportation of the livestock, and general farm operations. This increases the amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and causes more damage to the environment, particularly when compared to plant-based products.

By choosing to live a vegan lifestyle, you are reducing the amount of energy needed to create food; for example, studies show that going vegan saves three times as much energy as washing your clothes in cold water.

9. Veganism Protects the Ocean

In just 50 years, humanity has reduced the total fish population in our oceans by half. Overfishing is clearly unsustainable, but if it continues at this rate, it will lead to the collapse of the delicate ecosystems within the ocean, which humans rely on for climate stability.

Following a vegan diet would mean keeping the fish in the oceans, allowing populations to increase again, and the biodiversity of the ocean to flourish. It would also lead to fewer boats in the ocean, reducing noise pollution and resulting in fewer fishing nets ending up as trash in the sea.

10. Vegan Diets Help to Protect the Soil

We depend upon the health of the earth’s soil to grow food and live fruitfully.

Globally, the delicate nutrient balance of the soil is being destroyed, with an estimated 75% of ice-free land being considered degraded. This is large because of deforestation, intensive farming, and animal agriculture, which place high demands on localized areas of soil.

Factory farming can have severely detrimental effects on the soil because of the large quantities of toxic chemicals that are created from this intensive farming.

A vegan diet requires less land than one focused on animal products, and this would mean more opportunities to rewild areas of degraded farmland and improve the health of the soil.

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