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Veganism: The Cure for Climate Change?

How a vegan diet can help to combat the climate crisis

Veganism

Not too long ago, having a vegan friend would have been a relatively rare occurrence with most people enjoying meat, eggs and dairy as part of a balanced diet. However, it goes without saying that times have certainly changed with numerous celebrities including: Ariana Grande, Natalie Portman and Miley Cyrus all living openly vegan lifestyles, alongside 50% of Brixton's now claiming to know someone who's vegan. Although these celebrities may follow a vegan lifestyle for their own personal benefit, did you know that veganism could also benefit our planet Earth? Or more importantly, save it from the huge problem we currently have on our hands- Climate Change. As it goes, switching to a diet made up of vegan alternatives may be the easiest and most impactful way that we as individuals can help to fight the climate crisis, and here's why...



1. Reduces air pollution & greenhouse gases


Industrial agriculture accounts for as much as 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, beef being the biggest contributor of all with 60kg of gases being created per kg of meat produced. This is due to the large amount of methane that cows produce alongside the intensity of deforestation for their pasture and food (soy). Whilst it's obvious that meat is a popular choice amongst many of us, it's actual worth can be disputed as despite meat and dairy being responsible for 60% of agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions, findings reveal that the products themselves provide just 18 per cent of calories and 37 per cent of protein levels around the world.


Following on from this, an easy-to-read indicator of our personal impact on the planet is our carbon footprint which allows us to see the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by our actions. When it comes to adopting a vegan diet...

This reflects the sheer power that a dietary shift in the population could have and what it could potentially mean for the planet if everyone were to make the same lifestyle changes.



2. Helps preserve the ocean

Alongside pollution and overfishing, climate change is up there on the list of reasons our oceans are dying and the marine ecosystem is being destroyed. In Netflix's 2021 Seaspiracy documentary, it is argued that sustainable fishing is a myth and points people towards a plant-based diet in order for the oceans to recover, as it claimed the oceans will otherwise be virtually empty by 2048. As the ocean is the biggest carbon absorber in the world, overfishing and bottom trawling (which is when heavy nets are dragged along the seafloor to catch fish and anything else that's caught) has been linked to climate change as it not only damages sensitive habitats but also releases the trapped greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere. For this reason, a vegan diet can help to reduce this negative impact.



3. Reduces deforestation


As David Attenborough says in his 'A Life On Our Planet' documentary, "the planet can't support billions of meat-eaters". Due to the large scale of over farmed animals, a lot of farmland is needed to produce soy for the animals to eat or space for them pasture, with "over 80% of the worlds farmland being used for animal production".


Whilst some people commonly associate soy with a vegan diet, 80% of this crop is used for animal feeding and so through cutting down on the number of animals farmed for food, there would be a reduction in soy alongside beef (the two biggest contributors to habitat loss and deforestation worldwide).


4. Saves water


The importance of conserving water is something that needs little explanation. With water shortages being a global environmental issue, limiting its usage is extremely important and can help protect both people across the world and the planet. Since farming livestock uses one-third of all water recourses in the world, through cutting out the middle man, adopting a plant-based diet and saving the water for ourselves and the animals instead of intensive over production, a huge sum of water could go to better use.



So, is veganism the cure for climate change?


To put it simply, although it can seem like there's little we can do as individuals when it comes to saving the planet- if we all work together in implementing small changes into our lifestyles, these small changes can add up to make a real difference. Due to the demand & supply nature of the animal agriculture industry, if everyone was to adopt a plant-based diet then the animal industry would decrease in size and the impact we have on the planet would be reduced. So, although veganism may not be the 'cure' it's certainly a big step in the right direction.



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