Impact Climate Change by Making the Right Lifestyle Choices
As we progress towards a more connected and considerate lifestyle, environmental awareness, consciousness, and concern is on everyone’s mind. We realise the seriousness of utilising natural resources judiciously, of protecting the sanctity of our planet for future generations to come, and of ensuring that our planet thrives. Big corporations and small businesses alike; are all looking for ways in which we can impact our home less negatively and make changes that create positive ripples for the environment and for all the ecosystems it supports. And, guess what? If you’re truly invested in protecting the environment, the most important contribution that you can make is to change your diet.
You can make a big difference by taking small steps to change your diet by abstaining from eating meat, eggs, and dairy products. According to the United Nations, the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for a shocking 65% of worldwide nitrous-oxide emissions. The production of meat makes more greenhouse gases than all the planes, trains, and cars in the world combined.
Farm animals are fed massive quantities of grain and water, and then killed, processed, and transported. Storing their flesh proves extremely energy-intensive as they are stored in the deep-freeze for long periods of time. On average, it takes about 11 times as much fossil fuel to produce a calorie of animal protein as it does to produce a calorie of grain protein. When you consider how forests, which absorb greenhouse gases, are cut down and converted to land for pasture and farming, you realise that these industries are the leading causes of deforestation across the globe.
In fact, after fossil fuels, the meat and dairy sector that’s the largest contributor to climate change. Meat – especially ruminant meat (beef and lamb) – was consistently identified as the food with the greatest impact on the environment globally in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land use and conversion of habitats. When the world’s one and a half billion beef and dairy cows ruminate, the microbes in their large stomachs generate methane as a by-product. The meat industry contributes to global warming by releasing such large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas so powerful, it traps 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide. When you make a comparison between animal foods and plant-based foods in terms of environmental effects, you realise that even chicken is more than 10 times as emissions-intensive as legumes due to the extensive needs of water, land, and fertilise it needs to grow.
The maintenance of these farm animals also requires lots of water and fertilisers which releases greenhouse gases too. You’d be surprised to know, but with over a quarter of all arable land around the world being used to raise livestock, if cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China and the USA! If the consumption of meat and other animal products increases at current rates, global greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture will rise by nearly 80% by 2050, making the climate targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement unrealistic.
Now, when you consider the negative consequences of upkeep of the meat and dairy industry, you realise how changing your diet can impact these in a positive way over time. A change in your lifestyle can create positive ripple effects for the environment and reduce the pressure it faces from the processes we subject it to through these industries. When you make a comparison between animal foods and plant-based foods in terms of environmental effects, you realise that beef is more than 100 times as emissions-intensive as legumes due to the extensive needs of water, land, and fertilise it needs to grow.
In a study by the University of Oxford, it was observed that vegans have the smallest carbon footprint, while those whose diets are highest in meat have the largest; 2.5 times that of vegans. Organisations worldwide urge people to reduce meat consumption and increase their trust in plant-based diets, diets that put less pressure on the environment and allow us to eliminate the unjust and cruel ways in which animal husbandry is carried out across the world. By eating locally-grown seasonal produce, one can reduce their carbon footprint and impact the environment in hugely positive ways.
Turning vegan comes with its own wide range of health benefits too. A plant-based lifestyle can lower the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, reducing risk of heart disease, stroke, or type-2 diabetes. A study by PLoS Medicine found that eating a plant-based diet filled with high-quality plant foods can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes by 34%, and can also significantly decrease the risk of cancer. It can also improve heart health by helping you cut down on consumption of saturated fats from meat. Your risk of obesity also diminishes when you opt for a healthy plant-based lifestyle. All in all, you can live longer and healthier by eliminating meat and dairy products from your diet, an effect verified by a study from the Journal of the American Heart Association when they found that a plant-based diet reduces all risks of mortality by 25%.
A plant-based diet can go a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and impacting climate change across the globe. In your own individual capacity, a change in your lifestyle can prove to contribute to a larger step and domino effect that can help us rewind the negative impacts of industrial processes that have put the balance of our environment and world at risk. We can ensure the conservation of crucial natural resources, habitats, and biodiversity by restoring the ecosystems we’ve affected.
One considerate and thoughtful change in your diet, which is also beneficial to your own health and well-being, can catapult us into a much safer, happier, and balanced future! The decision, as always, is yours.
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