In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.
‘Pollution is a symbol of design failure.’ – William McDonough
So far in these plant-based pauses I’ve talked a lot about how eating plant-based is better for your personal health, but did you also know that ditching the animal products is also much better for the planet? This week, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve learnt during my research into plant-based living. Rather than me rant on too much, though, I think I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.
By eating plant-based, you reduce your carbon footprint by a third. Livestock production is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (more than the entire transport sector put together). Animal protein requires 11 times more fossil energy to produce than plant protein. Cows’ milk is 5 times more carbon intensive to produce than an equivalent soya drink.
A hectare of vegetable based foods produces five times as much food as the same area devoted to animal protein production. And, if we all went plant-based we wouldn’t even need as much land for the vegetables. 45% of worldwide grain production and approximately 66% of soya is fed to livestock in the form of animal feed. It takes an average 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of beef.
Animals require 10 times more water than plants to produce the same amount of protein. It takes no less than 4000 litres of water to produce a single steak. Factory farming wastes so much water that you can save as much water by not eating a pound of beef as you can by not showering for almost six months.
Animals raised for food in the US produce more manure than people. This manure is not treated and is stored in lagoons or sprayed onto crops. As it decomposes, urine and manure from farm animals releases hazardous gases into the atmosphere. Manure from factory farming operations contains pollutants such as antibiotics, pathogens, heavy metals, nitrogen and phosphorous which enter into the environment and threaten water quality.
Years the world’s known oil reserves would last if every human ate a meat-centred diet: 13
Years they would last if human beings no longer ate meat: 260