As people in the industrialized world, we go to great lengths to try and protect the environment. On an individual level we recycle, conserve water, some have even switched to electric or hybrid cars. In terms of policy, we set strict regulations on the emissions and resource consumption of companies.
However, as the population of the world continues to rise, these efforts are proving to not be enough. There’s something else the United Nations and experts all over the world are recommending we do in order to protect the environment: switch to a vegan diet.
Current Reliance on Animal Products
A report from the United Nations Environment Program’s international panel of sustainable resource management found that the world’s reliance on animal products, both meat, and dairy, causes more damage than the production of construction materials like sand, cement, plastics or metal.
According to recent research, the largest analysis on the impact of agriculture it’s products of animal agriculture. The meat and dairy industries are responsible for more greenhouse gas pollution than the world’s largest oil companies.
Yes, Eating Meat and Dairy Products affect the Environment
Livestock is now found to consume much of the world’s crops and, relatedly, fresh water, pesticides, and fertilizers. Specifically, agriculture accounts for 70% of the world’s fresh water consumption, 38% of the world’s total land use, and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The major impact the global population’s consumption of meat has on the environment stems from the impact of the meat, egg and dairy industry has on the three gasses identified as the main contributors to global warming: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.
Veganism Makes a Difference
Studies have shown that a mere one person converting from a meat-eating diet to a vegan diet would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 tons in a single year. To put that in perspective, that same person trading in their traditional car for a hybrid car would save 1 ton in carbon dioxide emissions.
Further, the cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys so much of the world relies on for their diet have been found to be the single biggest producer of methane in the United States.
This is significant because methane is even worse for the environment than carbon dioxide – it’s 20x more effective at trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere, a major contributor to climate change.
And in terms of nitrous oxide production, the meat, egg and dairy industries are responsible for a whopping 65% of the world’s nitrous oxide emissions.
Totaled up, the diets of typical meat eaters are responsible for creating 7x the greenhouse gas emissions that the diets of vegans do – in other words, if just one single person would switch to a vegan diet, it would have a profound impact on the environment.