Today marks the first day of 14 days (yes, 2 whole weeks!) of guests posts on my blog. I wanted to take this opportunity to have other peoples voices heard and share their experiences. So here is the first and I will let Damaris introduce herself and tell you all about veganism. But first, a quick thank you for every blogger who sent in a post for me to share with you. Lottie xx
Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to Lottie for the opportunity to write a guest post for her blog. I thought this would actually be quite fitting to write this about veganism as well because we’ve had a conversation previously about the subject.
I will say straight away that I don’t believe veganism is possible for everyone, I don’t come from a place of judgement and despite the benefits environmentally for veganism – I do appreciate that not everyone will be able to do this.
A bit of background about me
So I’ve been vegan for over 5 years now. I was listening to a conversation between two colleagues back in 2016 and they were discussing a documentary Cowspiracy and the fact that animal agriculture was the leading cause of global warming. Now this completely shocked me because I hadn’t heard anything to do with veganism and the environment before.
One of these colleagues was a vegan and they went on to recommend two other documentaries to watch called Forks Over Knives and Earthlings.
I was really curious by this point. I was brought up a vegetarian but as an adult I was pretty much a pescatarian and only really because I hated the texture of meat.
Although this conversation hadn’t really been aimed at me (I’m just a super nosey person). I decided to watch these documentaries anyway. I started with Cowspiracy which actually made me almost immediately decide that I wasn’t going to consume meat or dairy products ever again. Within a few days of watching all the documentaries I decided to go fully vegan and the rest is history.
What came first veganism or the environment?
As I’ve said Cowspiracy did shock me and this was mostly because Kip Harrington from the film talks about the fact that he was an environmentalist who took short showers to save water etc. So when he started to learn the impact of animal agriculture on the environment it made him wonder if what he was doing was enough.
This really resonated with me because I’ve always been quite eco conscious and would also consider myself an environmentalist. My mum was a big inspiration for me growing up as she always taught us not to waste water, food or money.
I would still consider myself as on my journey to zero waste and not quite where I want to be just yet. However, I’ve used a lot of things for years like plastic free deodorant, cloth nappies and reusable sanitary products.
Environmental impact of animal agriculture
I did mention before that I hadn’t considered veganism and the environment before this point. However, when presented with the figures from the documentary it was quite disturbing to hear the impact.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions which is more than the transport industry combined. (as these stats are quite old there is some speculation that the greenhouse gas emissions may be more now.)
- Livestock and their by-products account for at least 32,000 million tons of co2 per year or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than co2 on a 20 year time frame.
- Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.
- Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
- 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
- 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb of cheese and 1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.
- Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.
- Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction.
- We could see fishless zones by 2048.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. Source
Is veganism the answer to climate change?
This is such a tough question to answer because it’s hypothetical and there’s a lot of other factors to consider. As it stands currently in the UK it’s estimated that there’s between 600,000 and 1 million vegans which of course is quite a low percentage overall.
As I’ve mentioned, other things to consider such as – would just going vegan be enough? If you went vegan your overall carbon footprint from food would be lower but if you bought a lot of pre-packaged goods in plastic you would need to consider this packaging and whether this food had to be shipped.
In my opinion a few individuals going vegan on its own is not going to solve climate change and we actually need more of a system change in general. We have become so far removed from nature in how we eat. The food we buy in stores is packaged, processed and even things like fruit and vegetables are all a certain shape and size – and treated with a lot of pesticides during growth.
It’s also worth noting that there are a number of reasons that people go vegan and therefore vegans and the environment don’t always go hand-in-hand. I’m a vegan and I’m an environmentalist but some people are vegan for the animals only.
Vegans definitely get a bad reputation when it comes to farmers as well but the general consensus is that vegans don’t want meat farmers to go out of business they would just like them to switch their farms to crop farms.
As I’ve said previously I do think that veganism might not be attainable to everyone, that being said the current animal agriculture industry is not good for our environment. It is thought that there’s 150 billion animals killed for meat every year. Source Our population is constantly growing and therefore the demand for meat is continually growing along with it.
If everyone just made a conscious effort to reduce their meat and dairy consumption it would really help. I love to hear when people are taking in part in Veganuary and Meat Free Monday etc. Taking these little steps to reduce consumption of meat and dairy and even picking locally grown fruit and vegetables will go a long way to reduce your food footprint.
About The Author
Damaris has a blog and YouTube channel for Rainbow Vegans Rock. She shares sustainable tips and vegan lifestyle content, completely beginner friendly. She loves food and talking about all things sustainable. And, she also has a big plant collection but has a tendency to overwater them!