I have been trying to go vegan for the past few months and it is not an easy goal. It is challenging to avoid animal products as they are hidden in many of the foods that become regular in our diets. This is especially true when eating in a campus dining hall with (severely) limited vegan options. Nonetheless, I am still striving to make this dietary and lifestyle change.
Over winter break, I watched “Cowspiracy”, a documentary which opened my eyes to the horrors of the meat and dairy industry and their negative impacts on the environment. Prior to seeing the film, I already knew that the meat industry was not sustainable, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it is destroying the Earth. It is thanks to this documentary that my vegan goal was reaffirmed and strengthened.
The documentary presents many shocking facts and statistics that are important for people to know. Livestock, both in the dairy and meat industries, are responsible for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while transportation accounts for only 13%. This means that by switching to a plant based diet, a person’s carbon footprint could be cut in half. The meat industry is also detrimental to Earth’s supply of fresh water. One hamburger requires a shocking 660 gallons of water to create, thanks to the massive amount of grain required to feed cattle. In total, this amounts to one third of Earth’s fresh water. One last statistic is that livestock covers 45% of Earth’s total land surface, one third of which is ultimately desertified, making it unusable.
It is with these facts in mind that making the switch to a vegan diet seems more manageable and worthwhile. Though completely eliminating meat, dairy and eggs may be more challenging for some than others, it can still be impactful to simply limit these products in your diet. If everyone lowered the demand for these products, many sustainability issues would be addressed at once. Unfortunately, encouraging a drastic change in lifestyle is a difficult task and one that is not likely to be achieved in the near future. There is still hope, though, as more and more people begin to switch to plant based diets due to their health benefits, cruelty-free nature, and overall sustainability.
(Cowspiracy is available to watch on Netflix if you are interested. Also, for more statistics, check the infographic link below.)