Veganism has gone mainstream! Once the preserve of a bohemian elite, the adoption of a plant based or vegan diet certainly has its detractors, but there’s no denying that the general public appear to be embracing it in a big way. Veganism has grown by 500% in the US alone since 2014. The increased demand has led food manufacturers to come up with new and inventive ways to simulate the texture and taste of animal products to make the transition easier for new adopters. But what is it that’s causing so many people to lead a plant based lifestyle and encourage their children to do the same?
Of course there’s the endemic passion for animal rights, as well as the various health benefits, according to Vegan Liftz, but in a time when the most powerful office in the world is held by a climate change denier, one thing that one cannot overlook is the fact that a plant based diet is infinitely more sustainable than one that uses animal products.
Look, up in the sky
There are a huge number of factors that contribute to global warming. The greenhouse gases from transportation and industry are undeniably damaging, but many people are oblivious to the harmful nature of animal agriculture to our skies. Livestock contributes to a staggering 65% of the world’s human-related nitrous oxide emissions.Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times as damaging to the environment as carbon dioxide and can stay lingering in the atmosphere for up to 150 years. If we continue to subsist on a diet rich in animal products not only will be eventually run out of farmable land (especially if population growth continues at its current rate- and why wouldn’t it?) we’ll severely damage our atmosphere.
What’s the beef?
Of all the animals that are intensively farmed, the keeping of cows is by far the least sustainable. Even if we assume that all cows raised for slaughter are perfectly well treated (they aren’t), and die painlessly and serenely (the don’t) it doesn’t take an engineering mba to calculate how beef requires far more natural resources to produce than can justify the energy that it provides to a few people. 1 calorie from beef requires 27 times more energy to grow than 1 calorie from soybeans and 1 pound of beef requires upwards of 2500 gallons of water to produce compares to just 25 gallons for a pound of wheat. Seitan- a gluten based ‘wheat meat’ can be engineered to be similar in texture and flavour to beef with just a hundredth of the water footprint.
The flatulence factor
Farts are always funny, right? Afraid not! Your average cow produces a lot of methane in its flatulence and emanating from its fecal matter. Methane doesn’t receive the same media coverage of carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide, but it is nonetheless a terrifyingly potent greenhouse gas. In fact, methane has over 80 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and is at least 25 times as destructive over a 20 year time frame.
Although vegetarianism may reduce these statistics somewhat, the keeping of cows for exclusively for milk would still have the same global warming effect.
Are You Ready For A Vegan Diet?
Given these sobering facts, it’s not surprising that many omnivores and even vegetarians are switching to an entirely vegan diet in the name of sustainability.