An often controversial diet, veganism, is steadily gaining popularity and credibility. With the world in dire straits, many experts argue that veganism must become the way of the future. Many celebrities, artists, politicians and everyday people practice veganism and swear its existence in their lives has been extremely positive. While transportation and industrial pollution are a huge problems that must be managed for a fruitful future, eating animals has its own serious downfalls that, when studied thoroughly, suggest that veganism may also be necessary for a healthy world.
Unfortunate news of the West Antarctic ice sheet melting and the newly released National Climate Assessment–which urges for drastic change in order to save the earth–has sparked necessary conversations about how humans should change their ways in order to save the planet. Fossil fuel extraction and use must be reduced in order for CO2 emissions to decrease, which in turn will help the climate stabilize. However, another pressing issue is often overlooked: raising animals intended for consumption is drastically harsh on the environment, and according to some studies, its demise is just as important as stifling fossil fuel use in the fight against global warming.
Every aspect of raising animals for food or dairy is harmful in some way. In order to provide adequate grazing land for large animals, such as cows, forests must be depleted. The greatest amount of deforestation is occurring in Latin America. About three-fourths of the Amazon is now grazing land and used for growing feed. Livestock also contributes significantly to greenhouse gases, particularly in the form of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Since the 1940’s, animal production has drastically increased, meaning animals’ contribution to greenhouse gases has also increased.
Livestock animal operations are becoming more vast and incriminating each year. In order to feed the growing number of people interested in eating animals, more animals must be reared and slaughtered. This demand causes supply to increase tremendously. With this increase in animals comes an increase in waste and necessary feed. In large animal operations waste is displaced to local landmasses, where runoff of waste becomes invasive to the local soil and water supplies.
Animals in intensive animal operations, or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s), live a very unnatural life and are prone to illness. They are given antibiotics regularly to combat their unusual living habits, which exit the animals’ bodies through manure. This in turn ends up in the soil and water supplies of surrounding areas. Veganism focuses on not exploiting animals for their meat or bodies and, instead, aims to promote a healthy world and a healthy, sustainable future for generations to come.
Animal agriculture and its entire operation–transportation, distribution, equipment, feed, rearing–contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions than all of the entire world’s transportation. Of course, not all animal rearing operations are intensely detrimental to the environment. Small farmers who take care of their animals’ natural needs, giving them natural feed and lives outside of pens, are concerned about producing healthy meat in a much healthier way than large animal raising operations.
Studies show that much of the grain produced in the world goes to feed livestock that humans eat. This cycle is unsustainable at best and is a growing culprit in the plight of world hunger. If the crops that are currently grown to feed livestock were instead fed to humans, and livestock was not produced at the mass rate it is now, world hunger would be on the path to depletion.
Though animal agriculture is not the only contributor to the dire condition of the world, statistics show that it certainly is a main source. In order for the planet to become healthy once again humans must act and act quickly. An easy way to play an important role is to adopt veganism and end the exploitation of animals and the contamination of the earth. Veganism will become a necessary diet for the future, and it will help the earth become healthy once again.
Opinion by Courtney Heitter