Sustainable Eating: Veganism and the Environment

Veganism is often touted as a path to healthier living, with followers swearing for its benefits. But did you know that choosing a plant-based diet also plays a crucial role in promoting sustainability? Yes, your salad is doing more than just boosting your metabolism – it’s helping the planet too!

In this article, we delve into the various ways in which veganism contributes to sustainability. We’ll explore how plant-based diets can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, decrease water usage, and promote biodiversity, among other things.

Read on to discover how your food choices can make a difference to the world around you!

Key Takeaways

  • Veganism significantly contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with livestock farming accounting for a large portion of these emissions. 
  • Switching to a plant-based diet can dramatically decrease your water footprint, as less water is needed to produce crops than raise animals for meat. 
  • Livestock farming is a primary cause of deforestation and habitat destruction, leading to a loss of biodiversity. Choosing a plant-based diet helps lessen these impacts. 
  • Veganism can also mitigate deforestation through more efficient use of land for protein production compared to animal-based sources.
  • Veganism contributes to reducing pollution by requiring fewer resources and producing fewer waste products than animal farming.
  • The act of choosing plant-based meals over animal-derived ones is not just self-care but also an act of planetary care.

Veganism Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

You’d be surprised to know that by going vegan, you’re playing a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Livestock farming is one of the major contributors to these harmful gases, accounting for a massive 14.5% of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Cows, in particular, appear to be especially harmful to the environment.

animal based food carbon footprints chart

Taken from:

By choosing plant-based foods over animal products, you’re helping decrease demand for livestock production, thereby directly impacting greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, plant-based diets are more energy-efficient than diets rich in animal products because they require less energy-intensive inputs like feed and water while producing fewer greenhouse gases during production.

An average adult on a high-meat diet produces more than 10kg of greenhouse gas emissions every day. This is in stark contrast to vegetarian and vegan diets resulting in 4.16kg and 2.57kg of emissions, respectively.

impact of meat consumption in greenhouse gas

Taken from:

Veganism Conserves Water Resources

Switching to a plant-based diet can dramatically reduce your water footprint, as it takes significantly less water to grow crops than it does to raise animals for meat production. Livestock farming is incredibly water-intensive, with large quantities of water needed not only for the animals themselves but also for the cultivation of animal feed crops.

In contrast, growing plants requires far less water overall. This is because plants have a more efficient nutrient absorption system and don’t need additional resources like food and shelter that livestock require.

Here are some compelling facts illustrating how veganism conserves water resources:

  • It takes about 15 000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of beef – by far the most out of all meat types. However, other types of meat animals also need substantial amounts of water to hydrate and feed, with pork requiring more than 5 000 l/kg and chicken over 3 800 l/kg.
  • In comparison, popular vegan foods like potatoes, tomatoes, and cabbage all require less than 300 liters of water to comfortably grow.
  • Agriculture accounts for approximately 70% of global freshwater withdrawals, so reducing the demand for animal products can considerably lessen this figure.
  • A vegan diet uses up to 75% less water than one focused on meat consumption.
green and blue water use per kilogram of animal product

Taken from:

The benefits of a plant-based diet extend beyond just saving our precious liquid resource – by conserving water through dietary change, we subsequently protect aquatic ecosystems from excessive extraction and pollution often associated with agricultural practices.

Moreover, consuming fewer animal products reduces the strain on our planet’s fresh-water bodies, which will become increasingly crucial in light of climate change-induced droughts and the rising demand for clean drinking sources due to population growth.

Side Note: This is the best free video introduction I’ve found on adopting a plant-based diet—the right way. You’ll learn how to lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plants. Watch the free Masterclass here.

Veganism Preserves Biodiversity

Have you ever considered how your food choices could directly contribute to the preservation of our planet’s biodiversity? It may seem like a far stretch, but it’s actually quite simple.

By adopting a vegan diet, you’re choosing not to support industrial farming practices that are known for their harmful effects on different species and habitats.

Livestock farming is one of the primary causes of deforestation and habitat destruction worldwide. These activities lead to the loss of many species as they lose their homes and struggle to adapt in new environments.

To put it into perspective, let’s look at some numbers. The World Bank estimates 91% of all land deforested in the Amazon in the 1970-1995 period has been used for livestock pasture.

This is alarming, considering this area is home to at least 10% of the world’s known biodiversity, including numerous endangered species. When we consume animal products, we indirectly contribute toward this destructive cycle, promoting further deforestation and habitat loss, which lead to decreased biodiversity.

Choosing a plant-based diet can help break this cycle by reducing demand for animal products hence lessening pressure on natural habitats.

green banana trees during daytime

Veganism Mitigates Deforestation

Did you know your dinner choices can directly help combat deforestation? Large-scale agriculture, especially livestock farming, is one of the leading causes of deforestation across the globe.

The relationship between veganism and lessened deforestation lies in land use efficiency. Take a look at these statistics for food production:

Food ItemLand Use (per kg)Greenhouse Gas Emissions (per kg)
Beef326 m²27 kg CO2 eq/kg
Tofu3.52 m²2 kg CO2 eq/kg
Rice2.8 m²2.6 kg CO2 eq/kg

This table shows that producing tofu and rice (common plant-based protein sources for vegans) requires significantly less land and emits fewer greenhouse gases than beef production.

Just imagine how much forest could be saved if we switched even partially towards more plant-based diets!

Veganism Helps Reduce Pollution

Now, let’s delve deeper into how veganism reduces pollution. The process of raising animals for food involves not only massive amounts of land but also water and grain, which need transportation across vast distances. All these additional transport trains, ships, and planes need to burn fossil fuels to move around.

This entire process results in significant carbon dioxide and methane emissions, which are potent greenhouse gases leading to climate change.

Waste products from livestock farming often find their way into rivers and streams, causing water pollution.

On the other hand, plant-based diets require less resource input overall – less land to grow crops directly consumed by humans instead of feeding animals first; less water used per calorie or gram of protein produced, and fewer chemicals like pesticides and antibiotics.

a large ship in the water

Final Thoughts

The power to make a positive impact on our planet lies in our everyday decisions, and one of the most significant ways we can contribute is through our diet.

The choices we make at the dining table have far-reaching effects on the environment – from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to conserving water, preserving biodiversity, mitigating deforestation, and reducing pollution.

Veganism isn’t just a trend or a fad; it’s a lifestyle choice that can help create a more sustainable future. It’s about making conscious decisions that take into account the well-being of our planet and all its inhabitants.

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.

2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).