Why Go Plant-Based?
Leading a plant-based lifestyle is about more than just an ethical decision to stop eating animals. Your diet choices have effects on your own health, our environment, and our human population. Here’s how.
If we can avoid harming animals, why wouldn’t we? Animal products are unnecessary for health or survival; the only reason we eat them in the Western world is because they taste good. A vegan diet rejects the suffering and death inherent in the animal agriculture industry.
Research shows that plant-based diets prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and much more. As T. Colin Campbell writes in The China Study, summarizing four decades of nutritional research, “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest….There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.”
According to research by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, here’s a snapshot of the environmental damage you’re preventing by going vegan.
Global warming: Animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gases than all transportation vehicles combined and is a leading cause of climate change.
Pollution: Animal waste, which is produced much more rapidly than human waste, has no treatment requirements and few environmental regulations. No wonder animal waste is rated as one of the top ten sources of pollution in the world!
Deforestation: Animal agriculture accounts for more than 80% of annual world deforestation. Expanding from the United States into Central America due to high demand for beef, cattle ranching has destroyed more rainforest than any other activity in this area.
Loss of biodiversity: In the US, livestock overgrazing has made extinct more plant species than any other cause. Native animals such as elk, unable to compete with cattle for available food, are disappearing quickly.
Just as plant-based diets have the potential to help save our environment, they also have the potential to help other humans.
It takes 10 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat and almost 1000 liters of water to produce 1 liter of milk. Research from Cornell University found that “more than half the US grain and nearly 40 percent of world grain is being fed to livestock rather than being consumed directly by humans.”
In the US, livestock consume six and a half times more grain than the entire American population consumes directly. The Iowa-based Council for Agricultural Science and Technology estimates that if all this grain were to be consumed by humans directly, it would nourish five times as many people as it does after it is converted into meat, milk, and eggs.
Tomorrow, we focus on all the amazing foods you can eat (instead of focusing on the ones that are “off limits”), including some I bet you’ve never heard of!
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