Vegan food is often so imaginative. The omission of animal products invites creativity and exploration. This results in incorporating different flavour combinations and overlooked ingredients in meals. The vegan market is growing hugely, as there is a growing demand for cruelty free food options. Many restaurants are getting quite creative, they are inventing/offering mock meat and mock dairy options for those who want to live a more ethical lifestyle. However, amongst all the deliciousness of vegan cuisine, there lies another incentive to try vegan food – its significantly lower environmental impact when compared to meat and dairy based dishes. Vegan food uses significantly less of the earth’s resources than animal-based products and is a much more ecofriendly option. Below are some of the ways in which eating some vegan meals can make you into an eco-warrior, or how you can simply do your part to help the environment while you enjoy your tasty vegan meals.
Save land and habitats
It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that plants don’t need as much land to be grown for food when compared to animals raised for meat. Plants clearly don’t have to have any space between them so they can move like animals either. So, by eating more vegan food, you are essentially freeing up a significant amount of land. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land would be freed if everyone decided to eat a vegan diet. In addition to saving land, you are also saving habitats and protecting different animal species. Because the land used for rearing animals like cattle needs to be cleared, it contributes to a significant amount of deforestation. In fact, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of the amazons destruction. In turn, this deforestation results in a more polluted environment as not as many trees stand to purify the air. Since crops require significantly less land to produce, you can help to save the amazon by choosing a vegan meal. For example, the Beyond Meat Burger uses 93% less land than US beef. You can also be assured that you’re helping to keep homes for animals who are on the brink of extinction.
As discussed, animals bred for meat and dairy require a significant amount of land but also require a significant amount of water when compared with plant proteins. To use the scrumptious Beyond Burger as an example again, the burger has >99% less impact on water scarcity than standard US beef. We must strive to reduce our water footprint if we really value the earths resources. By eating more plant-based meals, we are choosing to live in a more mindful way that is considerate of future generations. A quick and easy statistic to remember is that you’ll save more water by not consuming one pound of beef (approx. 0.45 kgs) than you would if you didn’t shower for six months. Of course, try to take shorter showers too, but a tasty meat free meal can have a significantly greater impact on your water footprint.
Help clean the air
The increasing number of animals reared for human consumption is having an alarming effect on our air quality. Staggeringly, animal agriculture is responsible for at least 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all the combined exhaust from all transportation. Animal waste products emit gasses such as methane gas and nitrous oxide which are both significantly more powerful than carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gasses are extremely problematic when they are emitted into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. This problem goes hand in hand with deforestation. While there are less trees, there is less purification of the air, leaving these harmful gasses to linger within the atmosphere. For example, pea protein emits almost 90 times less greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere than its beef counterpart. Vegan food emits significantly lower values of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, so you can help to eliminate these toxic gasses from permeating through our air with your next delectable vegan meal.
Save the ocean
We have probably all seen campaigns against straws, that can end up being digested by sea life, but eating vegan food is another thing you can do to save the ocean and its inhabitants! Marine eco systems, just like any land eco system, requires balance to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, though, for every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 6 pounds of unintended marine species are disregarded. This in turn, creates an imbalance in the marine eco systems as it throws natural proportions of species out of balance. Additionally, the manure from certain animals is also detrimental to our oceans and sea life. For example, chicken manure is high in phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia. This waste often spreads into our waterways and pollutes it with toxic chemicals. Fortunately, plants obviously don’t create toxic manure that causes havoc in our oceans. Help clean the sea, one vegan bite at a time.
Decrease food waste
The fundamental principles of the animal agricultural industries are inherently wasteful. As we all know, world hunger is a big concern that affects hundreds of millions of people. Now, how are these two things connected? These industries feed so many crops to animals in order for them to survive for the duration of their life, just for us to eat their flesh. Why not just feed these crops to humans directly, rather than essentially wasting them by feeding them to livestock. In fact, while almost 800 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment and insecure food supplies, 35% of grains worldwide are fed to livestock. It is estimated that we are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people and we can feed these people by adopting plant based meals. When you order your next vegan meal, think about the positive impact it will have on people who are impoverished.
After reading the ways in which simply choosing a vegan meal over a meat/dairy based meal is better for the environment, I hope you can widen your horizons and become more open to trying vegan options. When eating out at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, you can celebrate the positive impact that the choice of eating a meat free meal had on the environment as well as its mouth-watering taste.