December 12, 2021 7 min read
Veganism has taken the world by storm over the past ten years. Veganism is a philosophy and a way of living where people who follow it seek to exclude all forms of cruelty and exploitation to animals. This includes animals used for food, clothing, animal testing, and more.
On top of the animal welfare concerns, many vegans also choose the vegan lifestyle because of the negative environmental impact that factory farming has, or the health benefits of adding more plant foods to their diet. However, is veganism really sustainable in the long run?
According to a 2021 report by Dr. Sailesh Rao, animal agriculture causes at least 87% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, around a quarter of total anthropogenic greenhouse emissions come from forestry, agriculture, and other land use.
Are you noticing a trend here? Human beings are currently using land inefficiently and irresponsibly for animal agriculture. No exaggeration, veganism can save the world. Don’t believe us? Just ask the UN. Here’s why veganism is sustainable.
We’re sure you’ve heard that farting/belching cows cause climate change due to methane; while this is true, the amount of land needed for these cows is not talked about. The major cause of deforestation around the globe is the demand for beef. Beef, palm oil, soy, and wood products are the main things responsible for deforestation. However, beef causes twice the amount of deforestation than palm oil, soy, and wood products combined.
In fact, the Amazon is almost to the point of being labeled a savannah instead of a rainforest because of the global need for meat. 80% of the land that was cleared is being used for ranching cattle. Another 10% of the land is being used for soy, however, we would like to note that 80% of that soy is used to feed the cattle.
It’s widely known that beef is resource-inefficient. Farming beef emits twenty times more greenhouse gases than plant protein alternatives like beans. As meat consumption increases so does the incentive to produce beef, if these increase more rainforests will have to be cut down in order to produce more beef.
If we continue to destroy our forests for beef, we will continue to lose our water stores, carbon sinks, and the ecosystems for plants and animals which makes climate change worse.
Believe it or not, a lot of the food that is grown all over the globe isn’t consumed by humans. As a matter of fact, a whopping 70% of the grain that is grown in the US is used to feed livestock. Beyond that, globally 83% of farmland is used to raise animals. It’s estimated that 700 million tons of food that humans could consume is being fed to livestock every year.
Meat is technically more calorically dense than plant foods, but mass amounts of plant foods that have more calories and different nutrient profiles could be grown with the land that is used for animal agriculture. There is solid evidence for human beings being perfectly capable of having rich, healthy diets that are entirely plant-based:
Additionally, all of the overfishing, deforestation and pollution that is caused by the animal products industries limits the planet’s capacity to produce food. If more land was used to grow crops for human consumption, then more people could be fed at less of an expense to earth.
The amount of energy needed to raise livestock is striking. This is partially because it takes a significant amount of time to raise the animals. They consume a lot of food, and the products need to be refrigerated and shipped.
Agriculture uses approximately 21 percent of food production energy. That energy is consumed through growing and harvesting crops for both human consumption and for raising livestock. Remember, as stated before most grains go to livestock. About 60 percent of the energy used in agriculture goes toward gasoline, electricity, diesel, and natural gas.
It takes a lot of energy to transport food – 1.4 quadrillion Btu of energy. Altogether, transportation uses 14 percent of the energy used for food production.
Many kinds of foods must be processed before they can be consumed, animal products being a huge part of that. Food processing means turning raw ingredients into finished products. Processing ingredients and producing the finished product requires 1.6 quadrillion Btu of energy per year. That is 16 percent of the total energy used for food production.
Food handling is the largest sector of this entire process. It involves a lot of different aspects, including restaurants, food retail, packaging and refrigeration. Food handling uses 5 quadrillion Btu per year, 49 percent of the total energy used for food production.
So what can we do? Plant foods can be raised with 8 times less the amount of energy than meat-based proteins. We can choose to grow and consume more plant-based foods and raise those crops with renewable energy like solar power, wind power, hydro power, etc.
Millions of people around the world do not have access to clean water. A lot of the people that do have access to water have to deal with periodic scarcity when it comes to water. This could be due to drought or even the mismanagement of sources of water.
It takes 100 to 200 times more water to raise one pound of beef than it does to raise a pound of plants for food. Animal agriculture is a leading consumer of water in the U.S. Grain-fed beef production takes 100,000 liters of water for every kilogram of food. Raising chickens takes 3,500 liters of water to make a kilogram of meat. In comparison, soybean production uses 2,000 liters for a kilogram of food produced; rice, 900; potatoes, 1,912; and wheat, 500 liters.
Agriculture uses the largest amount of fresh water on a global scale. It represents around 70% of all water withdrawal around the world. Techniques for sustainable water supply in agriculture include organic practices that limit water contamination, micro-irrigation systems, efficient water delivery, rainwater harvesting, adapted water-lifting technologies, drip irrigation, etc.
Switching to a vegan diet frees up this water to be processed and used by people, which could do a lot for ending suffering around the world.
As mentioned, livestock pollutes a lot of the world’s water, but on top of this, livestock also erodes and weakens soil. This is mostly because of deforestation; again, raising livestock requires a huge amount of land to be cleared, meaning the provided nutrients and resilience that the soil needs are now gone.
Raising a wide variety of plants instead of livestock will lead to long-term resilience and nourish soil.
According to Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN panel on climate change states that the best thing we can do to fight climate change is to eat less meat. Going vegan will have the largest individual positive effect, but going vegetarian or even just cutting out meat as much as possible will have a giant impact.
On average a vegan diet saves:
Putting this in perspective, these are really significant numbers, proving that one person can make a difference! It’s important to understand that while animal agriculture is a huge contributor to environmental damage; it’s just one way that our choices affect the environment.
If you’re interested in reducing your impact on the environment check out some of our guides on how to live more sustainably, 8 Tips for Sustainable Living and Eco-Tourism: How to Travel Planet-Safe This Holiday Season.
Here at Doshi, we want to encourage and support people in supporting the planet, that’s why we love sharing important topics here on the Doshi blog! For our part, we design our products to be practical and useful; we choose materials and construction methods that are meant to hold up to frequent use, we pay our suppliers for the more difficult work we demand, and we stand behind our goods.
When we set about to make a product, we consider the materials being used, how the product is being made, and look to find ways that we can make the product last. Synthetic materials have made huge strides in minimizing the resources used to create them. We do our best to find factories that purchase recycled base material and minimize the use of chemicals and solvents when making their materials.
Eco-friendliness and sustainability are a function of how long a product lasts and what materials it's made from. We will continue to push on every frontier until we make beautiful products that are beautiful, last long, and then disappear back into the earth when we are done using them.
For more information on our sustainability efforts, check out our about us page.
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