How going Plant-Based Impacts the Enviroment
When hearing about the benefits of a plant-based diet, you often hear a lot of talk about the environment. This is because every piece of food we eat has an impact on the environment. But, some foods make much more of an impact than others. The production of meat takes a huge toll on our planet. Breeding, raising, and slaughtering billions of animals for food every year requires massive amounts of natural resources, like fresh water and land, and generates massive amounts of waste and pollution. Simply put, our appetite for meat—and the factory farming system that feeds it—is unsustainable.
The best way that we can fight this issue is to simply forgo animal-based foods, or follow a plant-based diet. Plant-based living is about eating a whole food diet with a rich foundation in plants; fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. There are a variety of environmental benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet. A major benefit is a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Worldwide, food production is responsible for 30% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, and meat has been identified as the food source that produces the most greenhouse gas. Beef is a top offender in particular. This is due to methane production that comes from cows in the field. Cows release this gas via their manure and flatulence. Methane traps more heat per ton emitted than carbon dioxide.
Eating a plant-based diet also reduces land use. Transitioning to more plant-based eating patterns would mean less land being used for meat and dairy production and more land used for growing crops. Even with the plant crops that we grow, globally, only 48% of the grains grown in the world are eaten by humans, with 41% eaten by farmed animals and 11% used as biofuel. If we shifted using these grains to feed humans, we would be able to help alleviate hunger in the long run. Food production is responsible for nearly 80% of deforestation and is the greatest contributor to biodiversity loss. Since meat and dairy production consumes the majority of agricultural land for production, it is one of the biggest threats to species biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential to the resiliency of our food systems because it provides the raw materials for food production. It also makes it possible for crop plants to resist pests and diseases. This is because different types of crops have different levels of resistance and susceptibility to pests and diseases. So with these things in mind, what is stopping you from giving plant-based a try? You may just change the world.