Can Being Vegetarian Create a Sustainable Planet?
Firstly, let me just say that I am not writing this to push an agenda or to make you feel guilty about your love of pepperoni pizza. Yes, I am a vegetarian but I did try meat when I was 14 years old. However, it just wasn’t something I enjoyed and the drama of cooking it and fear of dying was far too much for my little heart to take.
This is my personal decision that I have the right to make, just like you have the right to decide to eat meat. This isn’t a lecture, I don’t think you’re a bad person for having a bacon buttie. This is just an overview of the facts.
In the last 10-15 years, there has been a massive rise in people turning to vegetarian diets. This mass change towards vegetarianism could be due to a number of factors: animal rights, dietary requirements, financial savings and the one which we’re going to focus on, sustaining our beloved planet.
Less Emissions, Less Global Warming!
A study conducted by Livestock’s Long Shadow in 2006 revealed that the climate change emissions from animals bred for meat consumption totalled to about 18% – which might not sound like a lot, but if we put it into perspective, that’s producing more than the total of every form of transport on this planet put together. Our love for meat as a species is one of the main factors contributing to why Earth is currently being baked alive and please don’t try to deny global warming; it’s not debatable, it’s a fact.
Stops Polluting Our Oceans
Polluting the ocean isn’t usually an association made when thinking about meat production because it’s usually reserved for oil spillage. However, it is true that the meat industry has a massive impact on our oceans. The excess of animal waste, nitrogen compounds, and fertiliser find their way down rivers and into the seas creating what is known as ‘dead zones’ which is basically a feeding ground for algal that consumes the water’s oxygen. This makes it impossible for the sea’s eco-system to survive. Almost 400 dead zones have been identified all across the globe.
Conserves Land Space
Another problem caused by our meat consumption is the space needed to breed livestock. Several studies have shown that the space to produce meat is over 20 times that needed to grow vegetables, fruit, and carbs. It is estimated that 30% of the Earth’s available space is used to home our animals or for growing crops to feed them. With the population rates predicted to grow by 3 billion, this space issue is eventually going to come to a head one way or another and I doubt it’ll be pretty.
Feed The People
The sad reality is, our livestock is better fed than our own fellow humans. Over one billion people are starving every day and we give our food resources to animals that we purposely breed to kill. Some researchers have concluded that if Western countries actually directly consumed the produce we feed to animals, we could feed at least twice as many people in the world and put a massive dent in the world hunger crisis. Now that’s the kind of positive change I want to see one day.
Even though the vegetarian population has increased, the meat consumers have increased their intake also. In the last 30 years, meat consumption has doubled to about 230m tonnes a year! This mass want and demand means we have to breed far more animals than ever before. As a result, this puts a massive strain on the planet’s resources and sooner or later this is a strain we will have to face head on whether we like it or not.
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