Veganism and the Enviornment

Let’s face it- it is impossible to talk about climate change and the environment without talking about veganism. Adopting a vegan diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help stop global warming, famine, and more. But first, what the heck is global warming?

Global Warming

Global warming is essentially the average temperature of the earth increasing. Just hearing this makes it sound okay-but trust me…its not. Global warming happens when CO2 and other “greenhouse gases” become trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. These gases absorb and trap sunlight, which causes the planet to heat up. Here is a little photo explaining this- it is called the “greenhouse effect”

article-2568825-1be1f72300000578-287_634x427

This is incredibly detrimental to the earth. One major effect of this that we are beginning to see all around the world is an increase in storm strength. These tropical storms are becoming so much more powerful because they are being fueled and strengthened by the greenhouse gases and heat.

If this warming continues to increase, ice caps will melt, sea levels will continue to rise, allergies will increase, habitats will be destroyed and entire species decimated.

What gases are causing global warming?

The two most influential and talked about gases are Carbon Dioxide and Methane. Let’s talk about those!

Carbon Dioxide

Without humans on earth, carbon dioxide would still exist. It is released when volcanos erupt and by photosynthesis. But, us humans are beginning to disrupt the natural amount. Carbon dioxide is being produced in excessive amounts by the burning of fossil fuels(driving your car), deforestation, and industrialization. Here is a helpful little photo of how we are producing CO2

ghge-gases-co2_1

(Source)

So, it is quite clear to see that nearly all humans produce CO2 in our everyday lives.

Methane

Methane, or CH4, is my personal favorite to talk about. Methane only comprises about 11% of the earth’s atmosphere, but it is 24x more impactful than CO2. This is where veganism comes in.

Livestock production accounts for more than 27% of human methane emissions. How?

Cows and other livestock produce methane when they breathe, eat, and basically do essentially anything. Since there is such a massive demand for beef in society, this gas is being produced more and more. It’s simple-the more demand for meat, the more methane produced.

Let’s do some math.

Cows produce about 70-120 kg of methane per year. This is the equivalent to about 2,300 kg of CO2 per year. This creates the same about of CO2 emissions as driving a car for 7,800 miles!

If all of the cows formed a happy little nation, they would be the third largest greenhouse gas producer, following China and the US.

Don’t want to go vegan? That’s okay! But if you want to cut down on your “methane footprint”, try to cut beef out of your diet as much as possible!

Why do some people say global warming isn’t happening?

There is no denying that the world is heating up-no one is trying to argue that. But some people believe that our action are not causing the warming, but that we are simply coming out of an ice age.

But the direct correlation between greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere and global temperature is undeniable.

Temp-CO2 corrln.png

(Source)

Deforestation

I mentioned this word earlier and chances are you didn’t know what it meant. That’s totally fine! But let’s talk about it. Deforestation is the process of cutting down or destroying forest, typically for cattle ranching.

We are going to focus on the Amazon Rainforest, but this is happening everywhere. Since 1960, 15% of the forest has been destroyed and 80% of that land is now being used for cattle farming.

This in itself is horrible because it is destroying so many habitats and species, but many cattle farmers burn down trees to clear the land. These fires are emitting insane amounts of CO2 and also destroying a producer of oxygen-trees!

So…let’s recap.

Forests are being destroyed-causing less oxygen to be produced. The trees are being burned-producing carbon dioxide. The trees are being replaced by cattle-who are producing methane. Yikes.

Famine and Clean Water Crisis

Famine

According to the World Food Programme, about 795 MILLION people are living without a healthy amount of food. 3.1 million children under 5 years old are dying due to undernourishment each year.

So how can veganism help this?

70 % of the grain grown in the United States alone is being fed to livestock. It takes about 16 pound of grain to produce just one pound of beef.

Without an increasing demand for meat, this grain and land used to produce it can go to feeding starving families.

Clean Water

This one may hit a little bit closer to home because Flint, Michigan is currently facing a water crisis.

Almost half of the clean water in the US is used to feed live stock.

  • To produce a day’s food for one meat-eater takes over 4,000 gallons; for a lacto-ovo vegetarian, only 1200 gallons; for a vegan, only 300 gallons (The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook)

 

Again, without a demand for meat, this water can go toward humans who need this.

I hope this helped to inspire you. Please at least consider adopting a more environmentally conscious diet. You have so much power to change the world, even just in your local grocery store.

Please leave any questions, advice, or critiques in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading!

 

 

SOURCES:

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101

http://whatsyourimpact.org/greenhouse-gases/methane-emissions

http://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2

http://www.fao.org/docrep/ARTICLE/WFC/XII/0568-B1.HTM

https://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/facts-on-animal-farming-and-the-environment/

https://www.beforetheflood.com/

Header photo source: http://www.thevegandinosaur.com/vegan-easy

 

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