The environment needs you, that includes giving up meat and dairy too.

The environment needs you, and that includes giving up meat and dairy too. 

Whether it’s Extinction Rebellion occupying London or thousands of young people participating in climate strikes, climate change has never been so prevalent. We are living through an environmental crisis unlike any other generation has faced before. The planet, environment and the atmosphere is changing at an unprecedented rate which we cannot control. From our evolving weather patterns to vanishing wildlife, the effects of climate change have never been so obvious. It is time we take individual responsibility for our own actions, including what is on our plate. Veganism has been proven to be the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on earth. If you have participated in climate strikes or Extinction Rebellion, adopting veganism is your next protocol. For arguments surrounding environmentalism to have merit, it is essential we stay consistent within our beliefs. The only way we can do that is by adopting veganism, not only for animals but for the sake of our environment and the planet. 

Dr. Joseph Poore at the University of Oxford discovered, “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land and water use”. He reiterated that “avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy”. At the Smithsonian Institute, scientists have revealed that a land mass equivalent to seven football fields is demolished every minute to create space for livestock production. If we ditched meat and dairy, we could not only decrease our carbon footprint by seventy-three percent but also decrease our global farmland use by seventy-five percent.  That’s a land mass equivalent to China, the European Union, the U.S. and Australia. This would not only stop deforestation but prevent the extinction of wildlife. Furthermore, animal agriculture has also been directly tied to air and water pollution, as the production of just two pounds of beef causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than driving for three hours. Scientists have also proven that dairy production releases more toxic emissions than trucks and passenger cars.  

To gain a variety of perspectives, I resultantly interviewed student environmentalists who have adopted veganism. I asked them one question: Why is it important to be vegan for the environment?

 Here is what they had to say:

 ‘Animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental damage in terms of greenhouse emissions. By going vegan we can save our planet. It is as simple as that! Ask yourself what we can do as individuals to save the environment. The United Nations even stated that to avoid the worst aspects of climate change the world needs to change to a plant-based diet. So, what’s stopping you? The truth is, if you claim to be an environmentalist and are still eating meat, you are part of the problem, not the solution. Watch Cowspiracy on Netflix for more information’.

Eleanor, Third Year History Student, QMUL

‘There is substantial evidence and data to show that animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change and deforestation. It is our responsibility to be conscious about what we use and that includes what we eat. If we want a future free from environmental crises, veganism is the only viable option’.

Emma, Third Year Design for Art Direction Student, UAL, London College of Communication

‘I chose to go vegan because my heart hurt for the innocent animals who are subjected to mindless torture. The Amazon is burning. ‘Sustainable’ or ‘humane’ meat is not going to put the fire out. Animals are not voiceless, their cries can be heard miles away from slaughterhouses, and it’s time we start listening. For the sake of their lives and the environment’.

Tanya, Third Year History Student, QMUL

Those who oppose veganism for its environmental benefits claim we can continue to eat meat if it is sustainable and humane. They oppose factory farming but support the consumption of meat reared in an environmentally responsible manner, which includes freshwater fish farming, raw caught fish and grass-fed beef, etc. In their opinion, animals reared and slaughtered in natural environments are more carbon neutral and eco-friendly. However, in 2017, a study conducted by the University of Oxford debunked this argument. The diets of grass-fed cows contain high volumes of cellulose fibre, which produces two to four times more methane than a grain-fed cow. The amount of land mass required to feed both grass-fed and grain-fed cows has had devasting consequences for communities. In Brazil alone, seventy percent of their land has been lost to deforestation needed for animal agriculture. Freshwater fish farms aren’t better for the environment either. These fish are kept in cramp conditions which has only increased outbreaks of disease. To combat this, farmers have environmentally damaging chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics, disinfectants and growth stimulators. 

We are living through a climate emergency like no other. It is no longer enough to clean beaches, use metal straws or your KeepCup. It is time to take direct action. Adopt veganism today, so there will be a tomorrow.

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