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Advocates for veganism never fail to point out how harmful consumption of meat is to the environment. People have become indoctrinated by the idea that the vegan lifestyle can help save the environment. Although, becoming a vegan temporarily can be good for someone, especially if they have heart issues or have suffered from heart issues, becoming a vegan long- term could potentially have a more negative impact on the environment than people may have initially thought. Veganism sounds like a good idea, but the long-term effects of veganism could potentially lead to more greenhouse emissions, economic problems in the world, and could even hurt the part of the environment that veganism tries to protect; animals.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say that “adopting the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) current recommendations that people incorporate more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood in their diet would actually be worse for the environment than what Americans currently eat.” Americans do need to incorporate more vegetables into their diets.
There is no denying that there is an obesity issue in America right now, however, being on a strictly plant- based diet is no better than being on a “meat-based” diet. It is actually worse for the environment to be on a strictly plant-based diet, especially if it is long term. “Eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than eating bacon,” said Paul Fischbeck, one of the researchers.
“Lots of common vegetables require more resources per calorie than you would think.
Eggplant, celery and cucumbers look particularly bad when compared to pork or chicken.” The article goes on to say “if you stop eating beef, you can’t replace a kilogram of it, which has 2,280 calories, with a kilogram of broccoli, at 340 calories. You have to replace it with 6.7 kilograms of broccoli,” Tamar Haspel wrote last year. “Calories are the great equalizer, and it makes sense to use them as the basis of the calculation.”
In summary of this example, producing more foods with less calories to compensate the loss of calories “from meat and other high- energy food sources involves larger amounts of energy, water and emissions than any simple kilo-for-kilo comparison of environmental footprint allows.” The increase of greenhouse emissions, which vegans have been trying to fight for a while now, is actually indirectly caused by the vegans themselves. Even though there are other factors to the increase of greenhouse emissions, ignoring the consequences of veganism because of the purpose of veganism does not help the environment in any way. One of the problems of switching to plant-based diets is the high demand for imported foods from other countries.
Kenya – the sixth largest exporter of fruit in the world – banned exporting avocados last year because country’s supply of avocados is at a major risk. Emma Henderson from Independent, says that “the majority of shortages have been seen in the most popular varieties, fuerte and hass, but across the board Kenya has seen an 18 percent increase in its export in the past five years, up to 50,000 tons in 2016.” She goes on to say that Australia also banned the exportation of avocados last year, “which is causing self-imposed rationing in Queensland as prices have doubled per tray in a year up to A$95 (£54).” Back in 2013, prices of quinoa from the Andes had reportedly become “too expensive for local people to buy.” However, quinoa is a major part of the region’s diet.
“The price of the superfood has tripled since 2006 to reach $7 (£5) a kilogram – more expensive than chicken – causing average quinoa consumption in the region to fall in 2014.” Veganism becoming a trend has become a large factor in the decline of these countries’ shortages of their exported foods. It has become much harder for these countries to sustain their own citizens diets because of the high demand for their foods. People want to think that they are saving the environment, however, they do not realize that they are also hurting other countries’ economies. When the economy is hurt, the country is hurt, and the environment is hurt. People have become familiar with the purpose of veganism; to help the environment and protect the animals within it.
An article written by Mike Archer (The Conversation) talks about, not only veganism’s effect on the environment, but the creatures that live in it. “Published figures suggest that, in Australia, producing wheat and other grains results in; at least 25 times more sentient animals being killed per kilogram of useable protein, more environmental damage, and a great deal more animal cruelty than does farming red meat.” Archer continues, “Agriculture to produce wheat, rice and pulses requires clear-felling native vegetation.
That act alone results in the deaths of thousands of Australian animals and plants per hectare.” Australia has lost more than half of its native vegetation because of the increase of “monocultures of introduced species for human consumption.” Many cattle in Australia eat solely on pasture. Pasture, or what they call “rangeland”, take up about 70% of the country.
The article continues to argue that “grazing occurs on primarily native ecosystems. The rangelands can’t be used to produce crops, so production of meat here doesn’t limit production of plant foods. Grazing is the only way humans can get substantial nutrients from 70% of the continent.” Grazing can cause a significant amount of damage to Australia’s environment, such as soil loss and erosion. Archer mentions an environmental advocate on his changed perception on veganism: This environmental damage is causing some well-known environmentalists to question their own preconceptions. British environmental advocate George Monbiot, for example, publicly converted from vegan to omnivore after reading Simon Fairlie’s expose about meat’s sustainability.
And environmental activist Lierre Keith documented the awesome damage to global environments involved in producing plant foods for human consumption. This may be occurring in mostly Australia because of the continent’s type of ecosystem; however, this is just an example of the effects of veganism. This may not happen in the Americas, this may only occur in Australia, but ignoring Australia’s environmental problems cannot be overlooked. Australia’s issues highlight what people do not see; veganism’s harm to the environment. This all begs the question; does veganism help the environment? An increase of greenhouse emissions, failing economic growth, and hurting animals’ way of life. Even though there are benefits to being vegan, the drawbacks of veganism could be so much worse for the environment if this trend continues.
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