6 Ways Vegetarians Help the Environment

21 Apr

Global warming is a serious issue.  Our Planet needs our help and we must come to the rescue.  Even President Obama stated in a recent interview that global warming is not only affecting the environment itself, but it’s affecting our health.  Climate change is creating a longer pollen and allergy season, contributing to more asthma and upper respiratory problems.  Higher temperatures affect older people increasing risks for heat exhaustion and cardiovascular conditions.  Climate changes affect mosquitoes and that leads to increased exposure to diseases like malaria or dengue.  Increasingly variable rainfall patterns affect our water supply, so much that in places like California it is estimated they only have about 1 year of water left.  Doesn’t that shake you up in your pants??

Back when Earth Day started back in 1970… it was all about air and water pollution.  Then it evolved to Reduce, ReUse, Recycle… and now, 44 years after that initial Earth Day celebration, the same issues still apply.   Polluted air and water supplies, the need to reduce our waste, the need to use up less energy and use renewable resources…  Why are we still having the same conversation?  Have we not learned anything in the last 44 years?

My take… is that we forget the impact our own behavior can have on the whole planet.  We fail to see the changes in our lifestyles as triggers for global improvement.  We think so little of ourselves that believe that we can’t really make a difference.    We leave it up to government, up to corporations and we, as individuals, have great power in our hands.

Earth Day 2015

It is widely documented, how becoming a vegetarian, vegan or even reducing considerably the consumption of animal products is the cheapest and easiest way to have a positive impact on the environment.   I would like to recap some of those to help you understand the great power we have:

  1. Vegetarians help cool the Planet.  Raising and feeding animals for slaughter overheat the planet and use up a lot of resources.  If you take into consideration the methane from farting cattle, the gases released from their manure, the oil needed to take the carcasses to the market, the electricity needed to keep the meat cool…  at the end of the day, animals are poor converters of food to flesh.  Switching to a more plant-based diet minimizes greenhouse gases, which makes for a cooler planet, physically and figuratively.
  2. Vegetarians consume less water.  It might seem like a weird thing to say, when I always stress the importance of drinking water and its benefit to your health.  But hear me out…  Vegetarian author John Robbins calculated it takes 60, 108, 168 and 229 pounds of water to produce 1 pound of potatoes, wheat, corn and rice, respectively.   On the other hand, it takes approximately 15,000 pounds of water to produce one pound of beef.  Vegetarians consume less water in the sense people are consuming all the water it took to produce that piece of meat.  No wonder there are so many vegetarians in California, huh??
  3. Vegetarians reduce stress on the ozone layer.  If you’ve ever been close to a livestock farm, you know these are very, very smelly.  It’s said 2/3 of man-made ammonia, a major contributor to acid rain, is produced by livestock.  Seventy percent of the agricultural crops are grown for livestock feed and these are responsible for 37% of pesticide use in the US.  Even though pesticides and fertilizers are used in vegetable and fruit agriculture and there is a case to be built around the importance of organic farming, reducing demand on animals for slaughter would greatly improve the air and ozone layer quality.
  4. Vegetarians preserve ocean life.  Not only because vegans and most vegetarians do not consume seafood, but because vast quantities of excess nutrients from animal waste, factory farms, sewage and nitrogen compounds from animal factory farming pollute sea water taking up all oxygen in the sea water near the mouths of major rivers, to the point where little can live.  And these things do not get talked about on the news…  Certainly, oil spillage, like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, is not the only cause of water pollution and threat to ocean life.
  5. Vegetarians enjoy variety and promote biodiversity.   For decades, tropical rainforests, one of the most diverse and rich ecosystems on our planet, have been destroyed to use for grazing cattle and growing soya for chicken feed.  The World Wildlife Fund calculates that about one third of the world’s diverse eco-regions are threatened by the sheer quantity of animals being raised for humans to eat.   And also, people with a plant-based diet are more open to try new foods, rethinking their dinner plate to see rice, pasta or quinoa as a main dish, not just as a side.
  6. Vegetarians promote life and health.  According to The Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian saves the lives of approximately 11,000 animals in his lifetime.  A vegetarian sees no difference in the life of a pig as the life of the family dog or cat.  And even though there are multiple factors involved in someone’s overall health, it is highly documented that people on a plant-based diet have a lower risk of developing obesity, cancers, heart disease and other illnesses.

The bottom line is, people eat less food, drink less water, produce less gas and require less land than large livestock animals.  Growing food for animals and raising those animals in farms involves cutting down forests, using more fresh water, damaging the atmosphere and employing more food to create less.  If you really care about the environment, going vegetarian is the most sustainable decision you can make.

If going vegan or vegetarian is too much for you, even just reducing significantly the amount of meat and other animal products in your diet can have a positive impact.  For example, how about instead of doing Meatless Mondays, make it “meaty Mondays” in which you consume a small portion of meat only once a week.  I can’t believe I suggested that…  but when I read it I thought it was a great idea for someone to not feel the pressure of the “vegetarian label” while still making a positive lifestyle and economic change.


Help me spread the word on the advantages of the Vegetarian Lifestyle on our Environment.  We can be the change we want to see in our world.  Please comment and share with your circle of friends…


4 Responses to “6 Ways Vegetarians Help the Environment”

  1. bexn April 23, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Where did Robbins state that it takes 20,000 pounds of water to produce 1 pound of beef? Are you sure you didn’t mean 20,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef (or 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef)?

    It would be very helpful if you cited your sources in more detail — the webpage, book, journal article, etc. — even better if you cite the original scientific research instead of the organization/individual quoting it. (I eat a plant-based diet but I’m also realistic about whom the public will be more likely to listen to.)

    • KarmaFree Cooking April 23, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

      You are ABSOLUTELY right!!!!! By hurrying the posting of this article, I failed you and the rest of our readers, in including many links providing support to the facts I include. I edited the original post that stated the production of 1 lbs of beef needed 20,000+ lbs of water. The exact amount is 15,000lbs of water – I include the link to John Robbins article, and also a link to the National Geographic article presenting the hidden water we use. There it states 1,799 gallons of water are needed to produce 1lb of beef. If we calculate that 1 gallon of water weighs roughly 8.34lbs, the calculation comes out to 15,000 lbs.

      I will include all links supporting the facts in the article to ensure readers, just like you, do not dismiss the importance of the overall message due to the omission of supporting links/evidence.

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I am most grateful. Madelyn.

      • bexn April 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

        Thanks, Madelyn! You’ve made it a lot easier to forward a link to your blog to my omnivorous friends. As an FYI, I don’t dismiss the message at all! It’s one of the reasons I eat a plant-based diet.

        A great place to get information is waterfootprint.org. Besides finding out how much water is used to produce food, you can also calcullate your own water footprint and find out how to decrease it. The Huffington Post did a quick overview of favorite foods based on their stats late last year that will be an eye opener for most people: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5952862.

        [BTW, I suspect most people visual water by volume not weight. If you’d really like to keep pounds in your stats, please consider adding a conversion to gallons/liters along with it. Imagine visualiing 7000+ 2-liter water (or soda) bottles per pound of beef — just imagine the shelf space that would take in a grocery store. This is bound to get a “whoa!” pdq!]

      • KarmaFree Cooking April 27, 2015 at 8:18 am #

        Thanks for keeping me in check… I appreciate it. And forward those links… Help me spread the word of the advantages of the vegetarian lifestyle. Gracias!! Madelyn.

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