What is veganism
Veganism is a dietary choice that avoids all meat, dairy or any other food produced by animals. This can also stretch into not wearing clothing materials made from animals, like leather for example. Veganism has exploded in popularity in recent years due to ethics, health and that veganism is seen as a way to reverse climate change. Recently, more evidence has emerged suggesting human dependence on meat is a leading cause of climate change. A recent Guardian article claimed over 14.5% of global emissions can be attributed to animal agriculture. The second-largest emission source overall and higher than all transportation combined. Furthermore, it was found that animal agriculture is a leading cause of water pollution, deforestation and a loss of biodiversity.
Why is it so important
Here lies the main premise of veganism. If humans can adapt to a plant-based diet, using the existing space previously used for animal agriculture, this will account for a massive drop in global emissions and bring us one step closer to reversing the effects of climate change. This is further backed up by a report from Oxford University, which claims a vegan diet reduces carbon footprint by up to 73%. Furthermore, a growing problem that has the ability to cause real harm in the future is the use of antibiotics in animal farming. Antibiotics are used frivolously in the industry and this has raised considerable concerns about the growing impact of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is because when antibiotics are used they are given to an entire flock of animals rather than just the ones that are in need of it. This provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow resistant to them which then can be transmitted to humans. Furthermore, animal agriculture is a large cause of deforestation, as farmers clear away forests to make room for grazing land and to grow crops for animals to eat. Since 1990 over 420 million hectares of forests globally have been removed. This is devastating for the local wildlife as habitats and entire food chains are destroyed.
Drawbacks of a vegan diet
From this, we can see that the claims that veganism could be a massive factor in helping the environment do have some evidence to back this up. Human's current eating habits prove to be environmentally damaging and something needs to change however veganism does have its drawbacks. Veganism is a challenging lifestyle choice, the world is simply not catered very well towards them with it being a relatively new concept. Further, it requires constant monitoring of what you are eating in terms of what nutrients and vitamins you are giving yourself. Deficiencies are very common for vegans due to the range of nutrients you can't get easily without meat. The most common are B vitamins, iron and calcium. Furthermore, protein is much harder to consume in adequate amounts due to the low protein found in plant foods. Additionally, vegan diets tend to be much more expensive than conventional diets. This will prove a massive challenge if vegan diets are to become more involved. Families just won't be able to afford or justify the increased food bill. Finally, it is still disputed the effectiveness of veganism and its effects on the environment. While one report might claim it reduces your carbon footprint by over 70%, you can easily find others saying there is only a 3% reduction. Convincing members of the public to make this lifestyle change will never work on a large scale unless you can comprehensively prove that what they will be doing will make a considerable contribution to the planet.
One for the future
Climate change is something we all will have to deal with. We are already seeing the effects of it with unpredictable weather and rising average temperatures. Countless animal species are due to go extinct. Animals that have been around for centuries like polar bears, arctic foxes, and leatherback turtles are just some of the best examples. One of the biggest impacts, if they were to go extinct, would be coral reefs. There has been an unprecedented reduction in the world's coral reefs in recent years. These reefs support all aquatic life and without their vital support, the aquatic world would suffer devastating losses in population. In the face of these dangers, finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint has never been more pressing. And there are many methods to be more environmentally friendly that do not require the lifestyle change that a vegan diet would. However, as more and more evidence comes out about the positive effects, veganism and its popularity will only grow.