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A plant-based diet can help keep you healthy. It also entails eating foods high in fiber that can reduce your risk of diseases, such as cancer. In addition to your health, it can help the environment. Here are some of the main reasons to switch to a plant-based diet today.
Livestock production accounts for 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Much of this comes from methane released through cows’ digestive processes. These gasses pollute our air and increase the impacts of climate change. Another factor is the transportation of livestock releases fossil fuels. So by relying on plants grown naturally, we can reduce our carbon footprint.
To raise animals, farmers use tons of water daily. In fact, it takes 1,799 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. On the other hand, a plant-based diet can reduce water consumption by up to 50%. We can then use the saved water for important functions, such as cooking and cleaning. Plus, there are farming techniques that reduce excess watering, such as drip irrigation.
About 38% of surface land is used for agriculture. Much of this consists of pastures and meadows for livestock grazing. With deforestation, some animals such as orangutans, lose their habitat. In addition, livestock grazing can harm native vegetation and increase soil erosion.
A dead zone is an area of low oxygen found in the ocean or lakes. Since most organisms need oxygen to live this can endanger certain species. Agriculture practices can cause these issues. The toxins from animal waste can’t be absorbed by the soil and find their way into the groundwater. The majority of dead zones are found along the eastern coast of the U.S. Some famous ones are seen in the Gulf of Mexico and the Baltic Sea.
Manure can produce ammonia, which kills fish, causes algae bloom, and creates smog. Plus, factory farms can contain high levels of hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter and endotoxins.
The good news about plants is they aren’t produced in a factory. They also emit less greenhouse gas emissions than animals. Plus, they absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, helping clean up our air.
When raising livestock resources are often used inefficiently. The process uses lots of freshwater that could be given to undeveloped nations. Plus, the grains used to feed animals, such as soybeans, could be given to starving families. In fact, more than 38 million people in the U.S. are food insecure.
Farming practices cause water pollution through the runoff of animal feces and waste. This can lead to the loss of fish and other marine life. Another issue is soil particles dumping into nearby streams and creating sediment build-up. This makes the water cloudy and reduces the amount of sunlight for aquatic plants.
With all the greenhouse gas emissions agriculture increases climate change. Climate change causes rising temperatures and sea levels. In fact, the earth’s temperature has risen .14℉ per decade since 1880. Climate change also leads to more severe weather and the melting of caps.
That’s why switching to a plant-based diet will help slow down these effects. Many people don’t know where to start with this. First, make a list of all the plants you enjoy, such as produce, seeds, and grains. Then research plant-based recipes online and find ways to add your own flavor.
Animal agriculture can deplete and weaken fertile soil. It is typically caused by overgrazing or the stomping of livestock hooves. On the other hand, crop rotation can reverse nutrient depletion and cleanse the soil. This is one of the sustainable farming practices along with growing cover crops.
Raising livestock requires large amounts of energy consumption. In fact, it takes about
4.7 units of fossil fuels to process one kilogram of beef. Much of this energy comes from producing feed, breeding, and manufacturing fertilizers. That’s why there is a trend toward using more renewable energy sources, such as solar. However, less energy is required to create plant-based protein.
Fish used to feed farm animals can impact the ocean’s biodiversity. This changes the characteristics of the remaining species and messes up the ocean’s food chain. Overfishing can also lead to the extinction of species, such as tuna and mackerel.
When manure breaks down it releases nitrous oxide, which causes global warming effects. In fact, about one to two million tons of nitrous oxide are emitted each year. So, by eating plant-based foods you can lower the demand for livestock.
A plant-based diet consists of grains, seeds, nuts, and maybe a small portion of meat. This type of meal is not only healthier but better for the environment. Livestock production uses up valuable resources and produces greenhouse gas emissions. So, consider switching to a plant-based diet to help the planet and feel good.
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief of Momish Magazine and believes in science, that climate change is real, and is doing her part to keep Mother Earth healthy for the future of her four kids.
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