I think most people would agree that as time goes on, The effects of climate change are becoming more and more visible, and searching for solutions for climate change are becoming more and more critical.
The animal agriculture industry accounts for nearly 15% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists call for urgent changes in diets and food systems in order to slow down the progression of climate change. For this reason, I decided to focus my project on the changes that one could make in his/her diet and how that would affect the course of climate change.
One of the major factors contributing to climate change is the factory style production of beef. In countries like Brazil, where the beef industry is one of the main pillars of the economy, there are huge amounts of deforestation for the purposes of cattle ranching. Over 700,000 square kilometers of Brazilian forest land have been cut down since the 1970s, for that very reason. When trees are cut down, the carbon dioxide stored within them is released, and in Brazil this leads to over 2 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide being emitted each year. Brazil is just one example of how much environmental damage is being done due to animal farming, and other countries such as Argentina, Canada, and the United States are on a similar path. Experts argue that “raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. It is a leading cause of rainforest destruction, species extinctions, ocean dead zones, and freshwater consumption”. It is clear that animal agriculture is highly destructive to the earth’s ecosystems, and is now playing a significant role in climate change.
However, modern food industries not only harm the environment but also damage human health.
Numerous studies all around the world have shown that illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancers are increasing in numbers. These studies also show that the food many of these sick people are consuming is, in fact, a large cause of their conditions. Investigator and producer of the documentary “What the Health”, Kip Andersen, emphasizes that processed meats such as sausages, bacon, and ham contain nitrate, heme iron, and other substances that are considered by scientists leading carcinogens, along with tobacco smoking, asbestos, and plutonium. Additionally, he reports that almost all fish contain various elements such as mercury and other dioxins, which are ultimately toxic to human beings. Dairy products are not much good for human health either, as they are almost entirely constituted of saturated fats, hormones, and preservatives, which link to Alzheimer’s, heart disease, ovarian cancer, and other diseases.
So, with clear data that animal-based diets are harmful to our own health as well as to our planet, there is sufficient reason to stop eating animal products altogether.
Unfortunately, there is a common misconception around plant-based diets, as opposed to meat-based diets, that the former plant diet cannot provide humans enough protein, nutrients, and minerals. However, this has been proven to be completely untrue. Numerous studies have been conducted around the topic, and show that people who have gone on plant-based diets have shown improved nutrition and health. A study by the Wellness Institute of Cleveland even found that 99.4% of people with cardiovascular diseases were able to avert major cardiovascular “events” by going plant-based. Other similar studies showed that individual subjects suffering from issues like osteoarthritis, also decided to try plant-based diets to see how it would affect them, and surely enough they too were able to come off most of their medication within only a few weeks.
People are often confused about how to make easy, quick and somewhat inexpensive changes to help avert climate change. It has been predicted by Oxford researchers that if the entire world went vegetarian (which cuts out meat from the diet but still includes dairy and eggs), food-related greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by 60% by 2050. The studies also showed that if the entire world went vegan (completely plant-based diet), greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by an additional 10%. This could ultimately reduce the world’s entire emissions by around 15%, which is a fundamental change. Of course, it is difficult to switch from an animal-based to a plant-based diet overnight, but subtle changes can be made.
Climate change is a fastly-approaching battle that we must all try to combat in our own way. Going vegan, or even adopting a more vegetarian lifestyle is a great way to do so, while getting health benefits as well!
Works Cited: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UsCWI93dqD9VjigqiROYQ9jl7mTSrY-cSkimkNvfrhI/edit?usp=sharing
If you have any vegan recipes that you like, feel free to share in the comments below!