While the health benefits of a vegan diet are steadily being unearthed, the environmental damages of meat production are often felt by all yet noticed by a few. The World Health Organization’s recent findings state that ‘individuals are at greater risk for cancer when consuming processed meats.’ According to the WHO, eating 50 grams a day (or 2 slices of ham) increases risk of cancer by 18%. While mere statistics are not enough to convince most carnivores of the dangers of consuming meat, the environmental and societal consequences of supporting the meat industry affect more than one’s own stomach or immune system. What is the connection between the environmental benefits of a vegan diet and an individual’s personal health benefits? Do non-vegan diets contribute to global pollution? If so, what links exist between our everyday diet choices and the planet Earth we leave to the future?
Perhaps one of the largest arguments against meat consumption and for a vegan diet is relative impact on the environment. Issues surrounding arable land and water rights are also key factors connected to the support of the meat industry. According to the United Nations, meat production and factory farming are responsible for 70 percent of freshwater consumption, 38 percent of land use, and 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. If we are using precious freshwater and land to raise edible animals, we raise methane levels from their excrement (cows) while limiting fresh vegetable production. After all, it takes much less production to produce vegetables than it does to feed animals. As the global population continues to increase, our ability to feed everyone on this planet is greatly reduced with the consequences of meat production.
As individuals, we are free to consume and experience mostly anything our tastes crave. However, as a society we must consider the Earth we are leaving to our future generations. While the transitions to more sustainable lifestyles may not happen overnight, every step towards a healthier planet brightens the possibilities of our future. We are committed to taking this first step together for the sake of tomorrow.
Top Photo: Texas State Aquarium
Bottom Photo: Memolition.com
FAO. 2012. Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solutions for Policy, Research and Action. [Accessed 13 January 2013]
World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030 - An FAO perspective. (n.d.). Retrieved Nov 3, 2015 from http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y4252e/y4252e05b.htm