Veganism is a growing movement around the world, but many people are still unsure as to how a diet change could benefit the planet. There is certainly some controversy on the subject, however the facts are; while the worlds population has doubled since the 1960’s, world meat production has quadrupled. These figures are only growing, and by 2050 are estimated to have doubled. This really illustrates the importance of the vegan movement, just based on the shear mass production of meat in our world today. The real question is, why should we be concerned by the scale of animals being farmed?
One of the biggest factors involved in the production of meat is the amount of land required to farm animals. People may still wonder how this has much of an environmental impact, but this contributes towards deforestation which then results in an increase in global warming. Trees play a major role in controlling global warming, by utilizing green house gases and restoring the balance in the atmosphere. With constant deforestation the ratio of green house gases in the atmosphere has increased, adding to our global warming woes. There are many other negative impacts caused by deforestation, however global warming is definitely one of the most alarming.
The farming of animals involves using a huge amount of water, but again, why should we be concerned by this? To put it simply, without fresh water you will die in just a few days. Water consumption for agriculture alters the natural water cycle in many areas of the world. This degrades production areas and intensifies other environmental problems such as landclearing. We know that of all the worlds water, only 3% is fresh. Less than one third of 1% of this fresh water is available for human use and the rest frozen away in glaciers. As our population grows, more and more people are sharing this limited resource. Also, the more water consumed the less there is available for the environment. Therefore, it is important that we use water wisely and do not waste it on the mass production of meat.
There are many more points to make when considering the impact the meat industry has on our environment, and these are just a few. As already stated, livestock contributes to global warming through deforestation. Overall, animal agriculture is responsible for about 9% of human carbon dioxide emissions globally, but is also a significant source of other greenhouse gases. For example, ruminant animals like cattle produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The livestock sector is responsible for about 37% of human-caused methane emissions, and about 65% of human nitrous oxide emissions.
There are many environmental factors which must be considered when deciding on a diet. Whether people wish to accept it or not, that decision when doing your weekly shop can have a huge impact on our environment. Your choice is a vote, make it a vegan one and stick to a plant based diet.