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.
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:
- 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.
- 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??
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…