Over the past several years, we’ve been inching closer and closer to an extremeclimate crisis– many argue we are already there. The effects of climate change are visible in our daily lives and have become something we can’t look past. While it might be true that big corporations are contributing to global emissions at alarming rates and have a huge responsibility to change their ways, there are things that each and every one of us can do to be a part of climate change solutions.
It’s beenproventhat adoption of plant-rich diets is considered one of the most efficient and effective ways to impact climate change from an individual standpoint. There’s not just one way eating a plant-rich diet reduces one’s environmental impact, but several. From extremely high water usage to greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants entering the atmosphere, there are a handful of interconnected issues that spring from a meat- and dairy-heavy diet.
Here are 3 ways in which a plant-rich diet can help the environment:
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Eliminating meat and dairy completely, or even just consuminglessmeat and dairy in your regular diet, can significantlyreduce your carbon footprint. Different kinds of meat and fish have different impacts on greenhouse gas emissions creation, but beef cattle is at the top of the list. Each time you eata hamburgeror drink a glass of milk, you have to account for everything that went into making fertilizer and pumping irrigation water to grow the grains/food that fed the cow; fossil fuels that went into converting forest land to grazing land; all of the methane released from the cow’s digestion and manure; and the often unaccounted-for warmingfeedback loopsscientists are now discovering and uncovering the implications of.
Saving Trees and Maintaining Biodiversity
This could easily live under the above category related to reducing your carbon footprint, but saving land is something that is often overlooked when thinking about the impacts of consuming animal-based and animal-derived products. Not only does the production of animal products generate greenhouse gas emissions that are then absorbed into the atmosphere, but in order to grow the food necessary to feed animals that are then raised for food, and then to raise the animals themselves, unimaginable amounts of land and healthy, thriving ecosystems are cleared. And oftentimes, the lands that are cleared are dense forest and rich grasslands, both of which generate necessary oxygen, perform important air filtration functions, capture and sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; and are the home to countless species of plants and animals. Studies and statistics show thatone-third of biodiversityloss to date is linked to animal agriculture.
Water scarcity is a growing concern across the planet, and switching to a plant-rich diet can save impactful amounts of precious fresh water. According toUNESCO-IHE, sixteen percent of global freshwater is used solely to grow and nurture livestock – that’s 2422 cubic gigameters of water per year. Copious amounts of water is of course being used in various stages of animal-based product production, but the production itself also leads to polluting additional nearby groundwater sources, therefore further depleting our freshwater sources.
By 2050, global population is estimated to reach 10 billion people. Between now and then, consumption of meat and dairy products is expected to rise 76 and 64 percent, respectively. If you’re feeling inspired to make a difference, consider what a more plant-rich diet could look and be like for you and in your life. A great way to start is by swapping out traditional dairy milk for Take Two Barleymilk! Visit ourImpactsandProductspages to learn more.