Just how does veganism affect our planet? With the recent rise in the vegan market, are we aware of the impacts on the people who grow our food?
In this post, I’d like to explore the effects of animal agriculture, and also of the veganism affect on our planet. It’s no secret that the animal industry is the leading cause of deforestation, species extinction and excessive water consumption. But what about the rise in the vegan trend? How has this impacted our home?
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How does veganism affect the environment?
Source: Global Citizen
Veganism helps to combat world hunger:
With over 70% of grain grown being fed to livestock, and 83% of the worlds farmland used to raise livestock, it’s no wonder that we have a problem with world hunger. 700 million tons of edible food is fed to livestock every year; there really is no valid reason for the hunger we are experiencing.
On top of that, deforestation, over-fishing and pollution from animal agriculture is limiting the Earth’s capacity to produce quality food. But if we use more farmland to grow crops for humans, more people can be fed at less expense to the planet.
It’s a well known fact, that time is running out for us; the worlds population is expected to hit at least 9.1 billion by 2050. There just isn’t enough land on the planet to raise enough meat to feed everyone the typical carnivore diet; nor can the Earth cope with the amount of pollution it will create.
Veganism conserves water:
There are still millions of people around the world who don’t have access to clean water; and even more who suffer water scarcity on a regular basis through drought and the mismanagement of water sources. Yet, livestock drink more fresh water than pretty much anything else on Earth, and they are also the biggest polluters of it.
The more livestock we replace with plants, the more water there will be to go around. As it takes approximately 100-200 times more water to raise a pound of beef than to raise a pound of plants, cutting down on just one kilo of beef saves an astonishing 15,000 litres of water. Replacing a chicken curry with a veggie version saves 4,325 litre water, yet it contains similar levels of protein
Veganism helps to clean the soil:
Raising livestock leads to deforestation, clearing huge amounts of land to graze them. Removing so much plant life removes the nutrients from the soil, making it difficult to grow different types of crops.
Our world is losing roughly the size of a small country every year to deforestation. This accelerates climate change because trees store carbon. However, raising plants nourishes the soil and leads to better long term sustainability of the soil.
Reduces energy consumption:
Raising livestock uses a lot of energy. Due to the time it takes to raise them; they consume a lot of food from land that could be used for other things. Meat needs to be shipped and refrigerated and takes a long time to process from slaughterhouse to table.
Plant based proteins can be raised with 8 times less energy than meat based proteins.
It purifies the air:
All the livestock in the world cause more air pollution than all the cars, buses, planes and ships in the world combined.
Plants clean the air.
How does veganism affect the people?
Source: The Independent
Veganism is a rising trend:
In January 2018, approximately 150,000 people took part in Veganuary; a month without animal produce. Veganism is becoming a ‘trend’, but that doesn’t mean people will stick to it; as with all ‘trendy’ diets, people find new trends to follow.
Companies are raking in thousands of extra pounds by creating vegan and free from foods, which is great news for vegans, as our options are increased, but most of these companies don’t consider where they are getting their ingredients from.
The vegan population has increased 160% in the last 10 years, making the demand for food substitutions hit an all time high.
But where does this food come from?:
In the grand scheme of things, meat from the farm down the road is less taxing on the environment than avocados flown from the other side of the world, as it requires less energy to get it to it’s destination.
Avocados and quinoa have become unaffordable for those who grow it due to the increase in Western demand, meaning we are depriving our fellow humans of the very crops they live on.
The average price of a 90kg bag of avocados has risen to 2,560 Kenyan shillings (£18), which may not seem like a lot, but can be a huge price to pay for something they took for granted.
Australia is also in short supply; this has caused self-imposed rationing in Queensland as prices soared to $95 (£54)
Mexico makes more money from the export of avocados than it does from petroleum, which is leading to illegal deforestation to plant more trees.
These are not the things that we, as vegans want to impose on the very people who provide our food.
What can we do to help resolve this problem?
There are a few things we can do to prevent this rising trend from devastating the supply of exotic fruits and veggies. After all, being vegan is not only about the animals, but also about the well being of humans, and of the planet itself. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep it local – use seasonal fruits and vegetables where possible, and buy from your local farmers market
- Home grow -growing your own produce is very rewarding, and it keeps your soil fertile. You can grow according to season, and it will cost you a fraction of the price of buying
- Ordering vegan food online is also a good idea, it is fresh and in season, and will be locally sourced. In the UK, we have The Vegan Kind, who also offer subscription boxes so you can try out new products, best of all – they ship worldwide!
And what about on a national level?
According to the Vegan Society, the UK provides good conditions for growing plant proteins for human food but…
- The UK currently only uses 16% of agricultural land for growing protein crops, and much of this is fed to livestock. We still import crops such as lentils, quinoa and chickpeas.
- The Vegan Society are aiming to find solutions for the farm of the future, saying these types of grains could contribute to self-sufficiency and reduce the need for imports that are rising in cost.
- Moving towards growing our own crops is a huge step but it is doable. In August 2017, the UK’s first commercial crop of lentils was harvested from farms in England and sold at food festivals and at London’s Borough market
- Hodmedod’s, Britain’s pulse and grain pioneer, grows quinoa, lentils and fava beans in Essex from £1.79 per 500g. The founders said ‘We wanted to know what a more sustainable diet might look like in a small city like Norwich and make a move towards eating less meat.’
Whilst researching my topic for this post, I was actually looking into how veganism affects the environment for the better. I have to be honest; I had never considered the impact that my diet has on the people that provide the food I eat.
It has been an eye opening time for me, and I will definitely endeavour to help minimise my impact on those people. I will be looking into growing my own fruits and vegetables, and maybe getting a greenhouse.
I’m actually quite excited about the thought of producing my own food! Not only will it save money, it will help me to reduce my own carbon footprint.
What are your thoughts on this? Were you aware of the effect a vegan diet has on the planet and its people?