Veganism has become an increasingly popular lifestyle in recent years, with the number of people following a plant-based diet quadrupling between 2014 and 2018. Many people have adopted a vegan lifestyle for ethical and health reasons, but the environmental benefits to going vegan can be just as impactful. While it’s often assumed that eating plant-based is better for the planet, the degree to which it helps is surprising.
The first way going vegan helps the environment is by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Raising animals for food is incredibly resource-intensive; animal agriculture contributes more to climate change than all of the world’s transportation systems combined. Eating vegan eliminates this contribution, as it does not require the vast amounts of land, water, and energy required for animal agriculture.
The second way veganism helps the environment is by reducing water usage. Producing one pound of beef requires more than 1,800 gallons of water, where as producing one pound of plant-based protein requires around 300 gallons of water. Going vegan helps conserve water, which is an increasingly valuable resource as droughts become more common across the globe.
The third way veganism helps the environment is by reducing pollution and land degradation. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation, water contamination, and air pollution. Going vegan eliminates these impacts, as plant-based foods require much less land and generate significantly fewer emissions than animal-based foods.
The fourth way veganism helps the environment is by reducing food waste. Animal agriculture is incredibly inefficient; it takes up to 10 pounds of grain and thousands of gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Going vegan reduces this inefficiency, as more of the food produced can be used to feed people.
The environmental benefits of going vegan are far-reaching and often underestimated. Adopting a vegan lifestyle is one of the most impactful things individuals can do to reduce their contribution to climate change, conserve water, reduce pollution, and reduce food waste. Going vegan may feel like a small change, but its effects on the planet can be surprisingly large.