You might have noticed that veganism has been trending a lot across the Internet this year – but just like online casino games, not eating animal products is getting more popular all the time, and it isn’t simply a fad. According to experts at the United Nations, switching to a plant-based vegan diet can help in the on going battle against climate change.
A major new report on climate change and land use says that the Western world’s high dairy and meat consumption is driving global warming. However, it is interesting to note that the scientists and officials involved did not call on the world to immediately become vegetarian or vegan.
Instead, they noted that more people could be properly fed using less land if these individuals reduced their consumption of animal products. The document, which was penned by 107 scientists for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that if we can use land more efficiently, it can store and sequester more human-emitted carbon.
Meat Reduction Just As Effective
Speaking more about the matter, Professor Pete Smith from the UK’s Aberdeen University noted that his team is not telling people to stop eating meat altogether. He recognised that people in certain parts of the world have no choice, but added that it is obvious that the Western world is eating far too much meat for their consumption rates to be sustainable.
He also added that we are wasting far too much food. The UN panel has estimated that greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste across the board constitutes as much as 10% of the planet’s total emissions. The report has called for speedy action to stop soil damage and desertification, both of which also contribute heavily to climate change.
The document has also warned that governments’ plans to grow trees and burn them in order to produce electricity will interfere with global food production, unless the scales of these plans are limited.
The land surface of Earth and the way it is utilised forms the foundation for human society and our international economy as well. With that said, we are re-shaping the land in notable ways, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the process. How our land copes with human-induced climate change is an essential concern for the future of humanity.
Thinking About Food Production
Climate change is a threat to our food supply due to rising temperatures, extreme weather events and increased rain. However, food production also contributes to global warming. On the agriculture side, plants do absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and trap the carbon in the soil. However, deforestation and harmful farming practices can hinder their ability to do this. Once soil is eroded and degraded, carbon is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, further compromising plant growth.
Mainstream forestry and agriculture create about 25% of all CO2 emissions, while livestock rearing produces even more damaging methane gas and promotes deforestation to create and expand grazing pastures. The environmental effects of meat production is a vital topic to many vegans.
According to PETA, producing 2 pounds of beef creates more greenhouse gas emissions than driving a car for 3 hours, while also using more energy than leaving your home lights on for the same period of time. Numerous meat substitutes are currently in development, aiming to supply the taste consumers love without these negative environmental impacts.
What You Can Do To Help
Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, meat (and specifically beef) consumption is growing, despite attempts from local governments to push more traditional diets. The authors of the UN study are encouraging people to stop wasting food and pushing organisations to use waste food as animal feed or, if suitable, donations for charities. These measures help greatly in reducing the CO2 emissions associated with food production, without necessitating giving up meat entirely.
With that said, if you are willing to take the plunge and go vegan, the environmental benefits are significant. Dietary experts suggest taking a few key supplements – including vitamin B12, vitamin D3 and iron – to keep yourself in good health, but aside from this, the dozens of vegan substitutes available has made it easier than ever to go plant-based. No matter what your personal preferences are, there are always ways to reduce your carbon footprint and make smarter choices that are kinder to the planet.