Vegans and the Environment
If you want to help save the planet and the environment you could do no better on a personal level than to become vegan. The world is not big enough to support both humans and farm animals without the resulting damage to the planet and everything that lives on it.
What’s in it for the planet?
If you were vegan, you would no longer require that cattle, sheep, chickens and pigs be bred and fed, with all the wasted food and land that that entails, and all the pollution they cause. Farm animals give off vast quantities of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. All gases that add to climate change. Farm animals produce — errrr — waste products that pollute the soil and rivers.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, cattle emit 37 per cent of the methane, 65 per cent of the nitrous oxide and 64 per cent of the ammonia that are produced by human-based activities. Methane is about 22 times, and nitrous oxide is about 295 times more potent than carbon dioxide in their effects on global warming. Ammonia contributes to the production of acid rain.
The FAO reports that 33 per cent of the world’s arable land is now occupied by farm animals or is used to grow food for them. And that they occupy 30 per cent of the world’s land surface. In the Amazon, 70 per cent of the forests have already been cut down to provide grazing.
Grazing herds have degraded about 20 per cent of pasture lands by overgrazing and by the churning effect of their hooves on the soil.
If you were vegan, large areas of the Amazon rain forest wouldn’t have to be cut down to allow cattle to graze on soil that can only support them for a few years before it becomes exhausted and more forest has to be cut down so they can move to pastures new. More forest wouldn’t be cut down to grow soya beans that are later used as cattle feed. Lions, elephants, giraffes, tigers, gorillas and a host of other animals wouldn’t be displaced by cattle in Africa, India and elsewhere if people gave up meat and planted crops instead. They might still need to cut down some forest to plant crops as human numbers grow but it wouldn’t be anywhere near as large an area that would be destroyed.
Farm animals take land from humans.
Farm animals require large areas of land to be planted with crops to feed them. This land could be used to feed humans. Much of the land used to feed farm animals in rich countries is in poor countries. It takes just a fraction of the land to feed humans on a vegan diet as it does to feed humans on a mixed diet. Every mouthful of meat you eat, every glass of milk you drink, could result in a human somewhere in the world going hungry. The food that was fed to the animals you eat might have been grown in a poor country and exported from there. You will literally be taking the food from the mouths of hungry humans if you consume animal products.
Grass-fed beef, did I hear someone say? Not enough room on the planet to breed and feed enough cattle to feed every human by this method – or any other method. Even the open prairies and ranges of the USA couldn’t support the cattle needed to feed all Americans with grass-fed beef. And the destruction and pollution mentioned in an earlier paragraph would be multiplied many times if such madness was attempted.
What’s in it for other animals?
Oh, and another thing — if you were vegan, you wouldn’t require that innocent animals be strung up to have their throats cut so that you can eat their meat. You wouldn’t require that chickens be kept in tiny, crowded cages until they were relieved of their suffering and misery by a trip to the slaughterhouse. Fish wouldn’t be hauled from the sea to suffocate on the decks of fishing boats so you can have fish and chips. Lobsters wouldn’t be boiled alive so you can have lobster paste in your sandwiches.
Cows wouldn’t have their calves taken away from them each year until the time comes when the cows are no longer financially viable and they too are sent for slaughter.
Fifty per cent of chickens — the males — in the egg industry wouldn’t be killed soon after birth because they are not egg producing machines. This grisly fate faces male chicks even in so-called ‘free range’ egg production — they don’t lay eggs so they are of no use. They are either gassed or thrown into meat shredders whilst still alive.
In the UK and Ireland, there would be no excuse for hunting foxes if there were no chickens or lambs to protect from them. Incidentally, foxes kill very few lambs. They sometimes take already dead ones which people think they’ve killed. Shepherds in Europe have the wit to use large dogs to protect their sheep from wolves, so protecting lambs from foxes should really be no problem. People who keep chickens should have enough intelligence to build hen houses that can keep out foxes. It doesn’t take much brain power to do so. Foxes don’t go equipped with crow bars and wire cutters.
In huge areas of prairie in the USA, there would be no need to slaughter wolves, coyotes and foxes if those areas weren’t home to cattle and sheep. The rivers in those places wouldn’t be polluted and other herbivores wouldn’t be displaced or killed.
But what will happen to all the cattle, pigs and sheep in our countryside? Most will no longer be there. What we could have are wild varieties roaming the hills and woods, but in much smaller numbers. We could have older breeds or wild forms that can live without human interference. Not cows that produce so much milk that their calves could never drink it all. Not mother pigs so big they can hardly walk. Not sheep who need to be sheared in the Summer so they don’t overheat. Wild sheep and cattle could keep the grass short in areas that have been grasslands for centuries. Wild boars could root around in forests. We could delight in the sight of these animals without feeling guilty that the lambs, piglets and calves are destined for the dinner plate.
What’s in it for you?
A direct benefit to you will be a healthier diet that could improve or cure many ill health conditions that many people suffer from. Vegan diets have helped people who have such conditions as diabetes type-2, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity.
If you switch to a balanced vegan diet you won’t become weak or emaciated. There are vegan strength athletes and bodybuilders whose strength and muscles don’t come from the consumption of animal products. There are endurance athletes whose incredible stamina is fed by plant foods.
It wouldn’t be easy to convert the world to veganism but you can do your bit for the planet, for the abused animals and for yourself. That is easy. Give veganism a go. You know it makes sense.