November is recognised around the world as the World Vegan Month, a time to celebrate the vegan movement and how far it has come. If you’ve ever asked a vegan why they are vegan, you may be familiar with the three main reasons behind this choice: the animals, personal health, and the Earth. Thanks to more and more information becoming available about the harsh reality of animal agriculture, it’s clear why an animal lover might choose to no longer consume animal products. And thanks to many documentaries, people have become increasingly aware of the health benefits of a plant-based diet. But how exactly does it help the environment? Which are the environmental benefits of the vegan diet?
According to Animal Matters, every year, 70 billion farm animals are raised for meat, eggs, and dairy. And those figures do not include fish, of which several trillion are killed for food each year.
Animal agriculture is responsible for an estimated 18% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The study also said that livestock is responsible for 35% to 40% of global human-caused methane emissions and 65% of global human-caused nitrous oxide emissions. These are two of the most potent greenhouse gases on Earth!
WHAT’S THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT?
The greenhouse effect is the natural process of the sun warming the Earth’s surface. This sun’s heat gets trapped by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (primarily carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide ,methane, ozone, and water vapor) and this causes the global temperature to rise, also known as global warming.
The more greenhouse gases we emit, the more heat we trap in the atmosphere, the more our planet warms up. This brings changes in ecosystems all over our planet, which is why ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and oceans are warming. All these changes affect animal habitats and put various species at risk of becoming endangered or extinct.
That said, most greenhouse gas emissions come from human activities and animal agriculture, which is responsible for approximately 18% of them.
BUT HOW DOES RAISING LIVESTOCK ACTUALLY PRODUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS?
First of all, via animal waste such as animal’s burps, farts, and feces. That releases methane into the air, and also pollutes local communities because feces are drained into waterways.
Moreover, as explained by Climate Nexus, approximately a third of global grain production is used to feed livestock. As you can imagine, growing all that grain requires a lot of fertilizer and pesticides, which have a negative impact on the environment. Furthermore, according to Climate Nexus, about a third of the planet’s land is used to raise livestock, and almost 16% of the planet’s freshwater is used for it.
As said by a group of researchers at the University of Oxford, reducing our consumption of meat, eggs and dairy would have a big impact on planet Earth. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the environment, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” researcher Joseph Poore told The Guardian.
There are so many ways to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that you are responsible for. You could start by introducing some vegan dishes in your routine (try our delicious recipes!), instituting some meatless days during the week, lowering your single-use plastic use and going zero waste, composting at home, buying organic foods or signing up for Veganuary or other plant-based challenges.
Our 7 stores in London and online shop offer many vegan, sustainable and organic products and foods. Discover them all and make a difference today!