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Article: Why - and whether - veganism is good for the environment

Warum – und ob – Veganismus gut für die Umwelt ist | paigh | Fair & gemütlich

Why - and whether - veganism is good for the environment

There are various reasons for people to follow a vegan diet or even a completely vegan lifestyle. One of these reasons is that a vegan diet contributes to environmental protection. I hear that again and again and can imagine a lot of it. Nevertheless, I wanted to know more and made more inquiries.

So: What exactly is it about veganism that is so good for the environment? And is this statement even true?

Vegan nutrition – trend, attitude to life or a mix?

A diet can be more than just the way you consume food. Many of us also define part of our social, ethical or ecological attitudes through our diet. So do most vegans. A distinction can be made between different forms of being vegan: For people who live vegan, it is definitely necessary to avoid foods of animal origin. In addition, ethically motivated vegans should ensure that everyday items such as clothing or cosmetics are free of animal products or animal testing.

Now, none of us can ignore the fact that the vegan lifestyle is currently booming. You can find more and more vegan products in supermarkets, new vegan restaurants are opening everywhere and you are increasingly discovering vegan alternatives and dishes on all menus. It's not entirely clear to me why exactly veganism has now become a real trend. Is it people's increased awareness of paying more attention to what they eat? Or the desire to consume fewer processed products or less sugar? Or is it ultimately the realization that we are living beyond our resources and are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change?

I now think it’s a combination of various reasons – like most “trends”. Maybe the question of the trigger isn't that important. But rather what's true about these arguments. Of course, we're not here for a new episode of Galileo Mystery, and I don't want to play the expert either. I was just interested in the topic and would like to share my thoughts and impressions.

So what are the reasons why a vegan diet is good for the environment?

Take a look at the websites of Peta or WWF to quickly get information about environmental protection and diets: For example, a meat-free dish has, on average, three times less impact on the climate than a dish with meat.
Here are some reasons why environmental destruction is largely caused by animal products.

Climate damage

First of all, the production of animal products causes climate damage. Deforestation for the cultivation of feed and pasture causes a large proportion of the greenhouse gases emitted worldwide. According to Peta, these emissions caused by agriculture will account for 50-80% of total greenhouse gases by 2050.

Land use and biodiversity

Another point is land use; since almost the entire share of agricultural land is used for animal husbandry and feed. Almost all of the soy grown, for which many hectares of rainforest are cut down, is used as animal feed - as are 50 percent of the harvests.

In addition, the cultivation of animal feed and the deforestation of rainforests does not provide room for biodiversity.

Drei Kühe auf einer Farm
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Waste of resources and water

The argument that would probably immediately come to mind for most of us is the waste of resources. Animal husbandry is very inefficient and, in addition to feed and water, resources are needed for transport and electricity generation.

In addition to the waste of resources, the waste of water also plays a role. According to Peta, around 30 percent of the water used worldwide is used for the animal industry. It should be noted that plant-based products of course also require water - but less than animal products.

Water pollution

The manure produced by animal husbandry and the production of animal feed, as well as the medications and pesticides used, lead to water pollution. This limits not only the quality but also the quantity of drinking water available. Of course, when more animal products are consumed, more manure is produced, which further pollutes groundwater.

Contaminated soil and air pollution

Soils are also suffering from the increasing demand for meat and the increased need for food. The soils are overused and less fertile. Of course, this means that less can be grown overall.

In addition, the air is also polluted by animal husbandry. Large amounts of dust, fine dust and other gases are created. These not only harm animals, but also contribute to climate change.

Summary of points

Through vegan nutrition

  • climate damages are reduced
  • The use of land is reduced and thus the deforestation of the rainforest
  • fewer habitats are at risk from any animal species
  • so many resources and water are no longer wasted
  • Soils and the quality of groundwater and drinking water are less polluted
  • the air remains cleaner

So is a vegan diet always better?

No, not automatically. Ready meals and vegan substitute products are often processed industrially several times and therefore use a lot of energy. It is therefore worth considering which alternative products you can use to replace animal products.  

In addition, the ingredients for alternative products are often of an exotic nature. The ingredients that come from distant countries, such as coconut, have to be transported at great expense and have a long journey before they end up on our shelves.

In addition, one cannot deny that vegetables and fruits can also cause high CO2 emissions. However, you can and should make sure that you use seasonal, regional and organic products.

Overall, it can be said that the way it is implemented is important here too. Just because you eat a vegan diet doesn't automatically mean that you live a super healthy life and no longer harm the environment.
Because damage always occurs in some way. Nevertheless, it is important to be more conscious about our own eating habits and to be a little more careful with our food and simply to pay a little more attention to our environment. Whether you decide to live completely vegan or generally limit your meat consumption or pay more attention to the type of animal husbandry is ultimately up to you.
But do something for our environment – ​​we can all certainly do that.

If you want to learn more about the environment and sustainability, mindfulness or healthy eating, take a look here over.

Eisschollen im Meer
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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