One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the reduction of resources required to produce your food. The strain on the environment decreases drastically without the incredible amounts of land, water, pesticides agriculture required to produce meat and animal products. Along with health benefits to the individual, some of which I dissect in my posts about nutrition, veganism might be the answer to the increasing demand on our earth.
Today I will focus on the environmental benefits of the vegan diet, as that is what resonated most with me.
The carbon footprint has been something I have been fascinated with since I was in middle school, clearly remembering trips to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the discussions of human behaviour endangering our planet.
My brother and I discussed how the earth always had a natural cycle of rising and falling temperatures, due to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we looked up the data to see if ‘Global Warming’ was just a nice new scare tactic. These Carbon Dioxide levels have been studied through the ice in the polar regions which gives us an insight into the atmospheric composition of the past. This is the graph we found almost 10 years ago. Since then, the population has increased, our consumption of fossil fuels has increased, and only what seems like a fraction of government have invested in renewable energy sources.
What Impact Do You Have?
The WWF has a cool little app which allows you to input your diets, living situation, travel and shopping habits to give you an indication of how many earths we would require if all the 7 billion people on this earth lived like you. I have always considered myself as environmentally friendly, someone who turns off the tap while brushing my teeth, who makes sure the dishwasher is full before turning it on, who takes quick showers, turns off lights, opts for public transport and recycles. To my horror, I found out that to sustain my lifestyle, we would require 1.6 earths. Now, this might be partially due to the fact I do spend a lot of my life travelling, including trips between Australia and Europe and many smaller holidays through out the year.
It made me sad that even with the precautions I have been taking, I, someone environmentally conscious, was not living a sustainable lifestyle.
From that point, I searched for ways on how to adapt by living habits to try and decrease my carbon footprint and attempt to do my part in protecting this beautiful earth.
I have been dreaming of purchasing an electric car since I read about them in Scifi books as a child, with Elon Musk’s TESLA a real life counterpart and current vehicle goal. Until I have the money to afford that and decrease the amount of fossil fuels I burn through driving, I need a more short term goal.
I’ve Seen the Planet In Danger.
I began my diving adventure back in 2008 on the Great Barrier Reef just off Cairns and went back in 2010 and dove the same dive sites with the same dive company. Just in those four years I had seen an enormous decline in coral health. Much greater areas of the reef were bleached, lifeless and dying. At 16 years of age I talked to my mother who encouraged me to do research about how such a drastic change took place.
The truth is, while diving does have some detrimental effects on the coral, the increasing temperarutre of the oceans is the real danger. These coral species need to live in water with the exact water temperature, pH and depend on dependable ocean currents and algae and zooplankton blooms to sustain the complex and diverse ecosystems. The water temperature is rising due to the enhanced greenhouse effect, fertiliser and pesticide run off from agriculture farms causes algal blooms and ocean dead zones.
I will have an interview with my Marine Biologist friend who has had first hand experience of taking samples up on the Great Barrier Reef during this most recent Coral Bleaching event in May of 2016.
Everything changed for me when I watched COWSPIRACY. The name of this documentary turned me off for a very long time, conjuring up images of ridiculous conspiracies I have laughed at for a long time. I finally decided to watch it and immediately made the choice to eliminate meat from my diet.
The reason behind this, was I had finally found my motivation to make a drastic change in my lifestyle. I considered myself an environmentalist and having the numbers of resources required to sustain the agriculture behind beef farming shocked and horrified me.
I could leave the shower on for two months or eat one hamburger.
I could change all my lightbulbs, eliminate any automated appliances or not eat beef for one day.
I could have the resources used to create the meat I eat for a week feed hundreds of people.
The truth that all I had been doing up until that point meant nothing when I ate meat two or three times a day.
I plan to continue my journey for living a more sustainable life and hopefully encourage others to join me on this journey. If everyone decreased their consumption of meat even by a few days a week, the effects of this could be enormous.
Turning 1-2% of the world Vegan won’t make a change, but having more people be aware of the strain of meat production putting on our land, oceans and rivers could create a shift in people’s approach to meat.
Human’s in general need to take a step back and respect our earth more, without it, we have nothing. We haven’t yet perfected interstellar travel to colonise other planets once we destroy ours. For now, it is all our responsibility to educate ourselves and attempt to lessen the strain on our home.