Environment · Social Justice

Veganism and the Environment: An Environmentalist Approach

“You have two homes, the earth and your body, take care of them.”

by Rachel Myers

rainforest-hd-11-777972Animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and producing meat and dairy used thousands of gallons of water for the smallest amount of food. But America finds itself being dependent on these products, which is not sustainable. Going vegan is probably one of the best things a person can do for the environment, so it is hard to see an environmentalist that is not vegan, does it even exist? Shorting showers and driving less are seen to be good things, but they do not do enough to really matter in terms of the environment. Animal waste also contaminates water and other resources which are scarce and adds to the overall destruction of our planet, “animal waste changes the pH of our water, contaminates our air; and the gases emitted are believed to be a major cause of global warming” (vegetarian times). It is definitely something to consider.

One of the most major problems with the increased production of animal agriculture is the destruction of our rainforests. Rainforests are often torn down in order to make space for agriculture. This is a big problem for the production of palm oil, which is very destructive to the environment. Rainforests are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, where hundreds of creatures live and depend on the rainforests to call their home. With the current rate of the destruction of rainforests, it is predicted by National Geographic that,”the world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation”. When the rainforests go extinct, so will all of the species who live there, or they will forced to be displaced, and eventually die out in their habitat.

Animal agriculture produces a lot of greenhouse gases leading to climate change. Climate change is a growing problem for modern times, because of the increased rate of greenhouse gases that are released into our atmosphere. Global warming is a natural process that happens usually from forest fires, and other natural processes. But what is not natural is the increased amount of cars and other transportation, and the increased populations of people and animals who are releasing carbon and methane every day at a steady rate.
Eating meat contributes to world hunger! When resources are being used to produce animal products, resources are being wasted. We have enough resources on the planet in order to feed everyone on a plant based diet, but animal foods require so much water and energy. It is hard to grow enough food for everyone when the majority of our resources are being used to feed the wealthier nations. It takes so much more water and resources to produce meat and dairy products than it does to produce vegetables, which is much more sustainable, “it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat” (onegreenplanet.org). Veganism is advocating for human rights, the environment, and animals.

 

Something to leave you with: Deciding to switch to a whole, plant based vegan lifestyle is a huge commitment, and it is not for everyone. It is one of the best things a person can do for the environment, but asking everyone to go 100% vegan overnight is definitely not realistic. A great documentary that I would recommend is “Cowspiracy“, which addresses the huge environmental impact that animal agriculture has on our environment, and it definitely opened up my mind about environmental issues and animal ethics.

What can you do for the earth today?

*Sources are linked in the article where they are referenced.

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