Is it really true that our diets can have such a huge impact on our planet?
The answer is yes. I know that diet can be a touchy topic for many people but in order to sustain life on Earth we must all become more aware of the truth and consequences behind what we choose to eat.
There are three main concerns as to why someone decides to transition to a vegan or plant-based diet:
Moral and Ethical Concerns for the 70+ billion animals slaughtered each year. If it is not necessary for an animal to suffer and die for our sustenance than how can we compassionately and morally take the life of a being who does not want to die.
Health Concerns, there is now a myriad of strong and growing evidence that meat, dairy and other animal products are bad for your health, with a strong connection to chronic diseases such as dementia, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, etc.
Environmental Concerns, animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean dead zones and responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry (including methane and nitrous oxide which have far greater global warming potential than CO2).
The initial reason why I chose to switch to a vegan diet (which I never thought I would) was due to my concerns of the enormous environmental impacts that come with the exploitation of animals, and other environmental resources which are depleted to raise animals for our consumption. As I learned more about the health concerns and moral and ethical concerns of animal and animal product consumption they became equally important to me, reinforcing my decision to become vegan.
Did you know that all of the proteins, nutrients and healthy fats that you need to live a full and healthy life come from plants. Therefore there is no real necessary reason for us to kill animals and exploit them for their reproductive products milk/eggs, in fact... if we all decided to stop eating meat today, we already grow more than enough food to feed every human on this planet with a complete, healthy, and nutritious diet. This just shows how inefficient it is to consume animals and animal products.
But to really put this inefficiency into perspective for you get this:
"while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Other recent research shows 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing."
"The study, published in the journal Science, created a huge dataset based on almost 40,000 farms in 119 countries and covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all that is eaten. It assessed the full impact of these foods, from farm to fork, on land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use and water pollution (eutrophication) and air pollution (acidification)." - Source
You might be thinking... but I love the taste of beef, or chicken, milk or cheese, "I could never give them up." Well then, ask yourself this "Is my sensory pleasure for just a small moment in time, worth more than the entire life of another sentient being who does not wish to die?" Is our sensory pleasure worth the destruction of our planet and our own health?
I assure you, when you choose to eat plants instead of a product of 'suffering and environmental destruction' you do not have to 'miss out' in-fact, there is a vegan/plant-based alternative for just about everything nowadays! Since I became vegan, I have tried a myriad of foods that I hadn't even heard of before I made the switch.
I no longer feel or ignore any underlying guilt about what I choose eat, I have found that I actually now enjoy eating more than I did before! Although I really did enjoy eating meat and dairy back when I was 'comfortably unaware' I certainly don't miss it now.
Now ultimately we eat to survive, to sustain ourselves right?
Sometimes we eat simply for pleasure and not out of necessity which is fine, so long as it doesn't come at the expense of another suffering. If we are eating to sustain our existence, to keep us alive, then why are we are choosing to eat something that is actually destroying our earths very systems which provide us with the ability to sustain ourselves?
This ultimately undermines the very reason we eat and if we continue to support the destructive and unethical animal agriculture industry then we are effectively eating ourselves to self-destruction. What will future generations think of our selfish decisions when they are no longer able to grow food... even fruit or vegetables, because the climate is no longer providing the adequate conditions to grow food because you didn't want to change?
If you would like to take control of your own health, the health and future our planet and deal with the unnecessary suffering endured to sustain your physical existence, I would like to share with you a couple of tools to make this transition easier for you:
1. The Planet Based Meal Planner will teach you how to make delicious plant based meals that won't cost animal suffering, your health or the planet.
2. Plantify is a fantastic app that shows you the impacts and consequences of what you choose to eat.
Here are a few documentaries I highly recommend viewing with your friends or family:
1. Cowspiracy is a documentary that will reveal to you the truth behind what we choose to eat, how it is killing us and destroying our planet.
2. Seaspiracy uncovers the shocking truth of how the fishing industry is depleting our oceans
3. What The Health is a film about the negative health effects of meat and dairy consumption and how closely it is connected with chronic disease.
And if you have the guts to see how your 'meat' gets to your plate then I also recommend watching this Dominion which shows you the truth about what you choose to eat and how most agricultural animals are treated.