While we all understand that we must be more earth-conscious, the fact remains that most of us simply do not know where to start. Mainstream media, activist groups, politicians and the science fraternity alike throw across such a diverse range of issues that need to be dealt with, that it is easy to feel overwhelmed, confused and thus unable to take concrete action.
The need of the hour is a few or preferably just one short, simple, straightforward change that can be followed without the need for putting in too much thought but that can have a massive snowball of positive effects.
One such change is adopting a Plant-Based Lifestyle. On the surface, it might seem like a small change. “What good could going plant-based possibly do for the Earth?” one might ask.
The answer- a lot!
Here’s a brief look at the cascade of positive effects that accompany the duet of “Adopting a Plant-Based – Shunning Animal Products” lifestyle.
The meat and dairy industries heavily contribute to global warming due to the enormous amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture including feed crop production, fertilizer manufacturing, and transportation results in 7.1 gigatons of greenhouse GHG emissions per year, accounting for 14.5% of all GHG emissions. Beef production itself is responsible for approximately 300 kg CO2-eq of GHG per kilogram of protein.
The release of harmful GHG impacts the environment by facilitating global warming. With the evident climate change and untimely natural disasters, it is time to change our ways. Facts suggest that altering our lifestyle by cutting out meat and dairy products from our diet can save the environment and help reverse the damage done by global warming.
Animal farming requires huge quantities of water for irrigating feed farms, drinking, slaughtering animals, and processing meat and milk. Overall, one-third of available freshwater is used for meat and dairy production. The water footprints of beef, chicken, and dairy amount to 15,400, 4,300, and 1000 m3/ton as a global average, respectively. In contrast, the water footprint of potatoes is 250 m3/ton.
As water shortages become a harsh reality, using water for farmed animals is an unnecessary wastage. The lack of clean drinking water in regions worldwide shows that water is a precious but limited resource that we must use sparingly.
Switching to a plant-based diet can reduce our water footprint while saving water and ensuring that there is enough for daily use.
Meat and dairy products result in groundwater pollution due to the drainage of fertilizers, manure, pesticides, and antibiotics used in factory farming. The run-off of animal waste such as urine and dung into freshwater supplies can result in the contamination of drinking water. Using this water can be detrimental to our health, resulting in complications, infections, and diseases such as cancer and infertility.
Going plant-based offsets water pollution caused by animal farming and helps save fresh water for drinking purposes.
With 33% of agricultural soil being used for feed production, animal agriculture requires excessive use of land. An increase in animal farming has resulted in deforestation to make space for pasture and feed crops, resulting in the widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides. Together, this results in depletion of soil due to erosion, salinization, alkalization, pollution, and desertification. Eventually, this soil cannot be used for agriculture and is rendered to be a wasteland.
A plant-based lifestyle can help prevent deforestation and protect the land from being overused and wasted.
With an increase in animal agriculture, there is a great demand for grains as feed for livestock. This has created unwarranted pressure to produce more feed for animals, leaving lesser grains for human consumption.
Despite the amount of livestock feed cultivation, research has shown that 86% of the animal feed is inedible for humans. And crops such as soy and maize are used to feed the animals instead of feeding malnourished humans. The production of meat results in wastage of grain for feeding the animals as it requires up to 7 kg of grain per kg of beef.
Based on the Global Hunger Index, it is evident that many nations are impoverished and do not have enough food resources to meet even the basic needs of the population. Our meat consumption habits are responsible for this.
Switching to a plant-based diet can ensure that food resources are evenly used to prevent world hunger.
Thus, making one change in your lifestyle can help you save the earth in so many different ways. Consuming consciously can take us a long way and help protect the earth from the harmful effects of animal farming.