Terrified about the water crisis? Go Vegan!
Water scarcity in India is an ongoing crisis that affects nearly 600 million people each year. It’s a crisis that not only affects the huge rural and urban population, but also impacts the ecosystem and agricultural activity. India has only 4% of the world’s fresh water resources despite a population of over 1.3 billion people. The number of Indians lacking access to safe water is 163 million, and according to a World Bank report, 40% of our country’s population will not have access to safe drinking water by 2030.
In addition to the disproportionate availability of freshwater, water scarcity in India is also a result of drying up rivers and reservoirs in the summer months, right before the onset of monsoon throughout the country. Piped water had run dry in Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and 21 other Indian cities also faced the spectre of “Day Zero,” when municipal water sources were unable to meet the demand. Some parts of the city did not have piped water for 5 months.
We think of Planet Earth as a blue, aqueous planet. While it is true that water makes up about 71% of the Earth’s surface, 96.5% of all the Earth’s water is contained within the oceans as salt water. The remaining 3.5% is freshwater – lakes, rivers, and frozen water locked up in glaciers and the polar ice caps. Up to 90% of all managed water is used to grow food; so what we eat has massive global significance.
According to the UN, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity. With this parched background, the meat industry’s gross inefficiencies are hard to stomach. The average hamburger takes 2,400 litres of water to produce. Yes, you did not misread the number of zeroes there!
According to a study published by the renowned journal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the practice of raising animals for meat, eggs, and dairy sucks up one-third of the world’s freshwater resources, which we simply cannot afford to lose at this critical stage. Apart from livestock’s use of drinking water, water is used for irrigating pastures and cropland for feed production. It takes a colossal amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, clean filthy factory farms, and to hydrate the animals that are used and killed for food. Considerable amounts of water is also used in processing of meat and milk in particular.
On the other hand, a vegan diet uses at least three times less water, and if the plants are grown organically, creates little to no pollution. According to the Water Footprint Network, it takes 322 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of vegetables – but it takes 1,020 litres of water to produce one litre of cow’s milk; and it takes 3,265 litres of water to produce a kilogram of eggs, and 15,415 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef.
Did you know, if you choose to go vegan today you’ll be saving over 995,500 litres of water a year? In fact, you could save more water by not eating a half-kilo of meat than you could if you didn’t shower for 6 months.
Animal agriculture is not only responsible for water usage but is also responsible for more water pollution than all the other industrial sources combined. It taints our streams, rivers, and oceans, and can spread diseases to animals and humans. According to a 2009 report by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), an estimated 70% of India’s surface water, as well as an increasing percentage of our groundwater is contaminated by animal waste and run-off from pesticides and fertilisers used on feed crops.
Livestock also have a determining and often negative impact on water infiltration, the process of replenishing ground water by rain, and the speed of water across landscape. Livestock also play an important role in depleting water quality through release of nutrients, pathogens, and other substances into waterways, mainly from intensive livestock operations. The volume of water evapotranspiration (the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration) by feed crops represents a significant share (15%) of the water depleted every year.
The United Nations has labelled the livestock industry “a key player in increasing water use” and “probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution”. Humans worldwide drink almost 20 billion litres of water every day. Cows reared for meat and dairy products drink roughly 8.5 times that amount.
When compared with a high-meat diet, a vegan diet saves water because 36% of global crops calories are used to raise animals. In conclusion, if everyone would go vegan, we could safeguard our water resources, and also prevent human deaths from health conditions linked to meat consumption, and cut global greenhouse-gas emissions by 70% by 2050.
So, what are we waiting for? The tap has already begun to run dry.
Now that you know that a plant-based diet can help fight the water crisis, why don’t you give it a try by participating in our #21daychallenge? We promise you it is going to be an exciting journey and we will guide you every step of the way.