A Guide to Veganism: How Your Diet is Contributing to the Environment

You may know from previous articles that there are a lot of things that you as an individual can do to help reduce climate change and help the environment as a whole. Going vegan can definitely be added to this list! By reading the rest of this article, you can learn about how eating meat is actually contributing to global warming and negatively impacting the environment, and what you can do to individually change this. This article is not meant to shame anyone for eating meat or make anyone feel bad, it is simply written as a guide to anyone who might want to start going vegan for whatever reason. 

Negative Impacts of Animal Agriculture 

The number and amount of resources that go into meat production and general domestication are enormous. For starters, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has stated that nearly half of all the water in America is used in raising animals for food. More specifically, it takes nearly 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat whereas growing one pound of wheat only takes 25 gallons of water. The list continues: one pound of beef takes about 1,800 gallons whereas corn only needs 108 gallons, etc. Therefore, stopping the consumption of animal products fundamentally reduces your water footprint on the planet and allows you to help save thousands of gallons of freshwater. 

Not only is meat consumption causing an excess of water to be wasted, but it is also one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions as it is responsible for nearly 18% of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Thousands of gallons of water that go towards bulking up the animals to slaughter them and the impact of this is the immeasurable amount of CO2 and methane that is released from the animals and their waste. Researchers calculated that if every single American stopped eating meat, the environmental impact would be the equivalent of removing 60 million cars off the road. This suggests that the emissions of greenhouse gasses due to meat production is much larger than most believe, and by individually choosing to stop eating meat, you could drastically reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. 

While meat production and consumption are the most damaging to the environment, all animal products are harmful and contribute to climate change. The dairy industry, for example, is not only inhumane but also globally emits about 4% of all human-caused emissions alone. Studies have also shown that “in the U.S., every gallon of milk consumed results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17.6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.” Numbers such as this align with all animal products, including fish and eggs. Although they aren’t as significant as the numbers associated with meat production, cutting all these foods out of your diet can cause a significant environmental change in the long run. 

cows, agriculture, rural life, lowland shoe, black and white, heifers, milk,  dairy | Pikist

Why Should I Go Vegan? 

It may seem like one person choosing to go vegan wouldn’t make much of a difference, but this mindset can be dangerous. As previously stated, just a single pound of meat requires about 2,400 gallons of water and can emit nearly 14.8 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. By choosing to cut out all animal products, you can contribute to reducing this number and generally reducing your carbon and water footprint. Not only can you help save the environment, but you can also help save the animals. The way that domesticated animals are treated in order to become our food is more horrific than people may think. The dairy industry, for example, causes the cows that end up in this industry to suffer their entire lives. You can learn more about the cruelty and horror within this industry by looking at the list below. 

Tips for Going Vegan

  1. Educate yourself. Watch and read more about the cruelty of animal agriculture, the horrific impacts that it has on our planet, and how a vegan diet can impact your health. We have composed a list to get your research started: 
  • Well-known documentary Forks Over Knives:
  • Podcasts:

Main Street Vegan:

Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living with Compassion and Purpose: 

The Bearded Vegans:

  1. Start slow. Cutting out all animal products from your diet after being so used to eating them will be extremely difficult and might cause you to lose determination and go back to these foods. Starting by cutting out one thing at a time for some time can cause your body to adjust to the changes and will give you a better chance of staying vegan. 
  2. Find someone who inspires you. Finding a vegan blogger or nutritionist who inspires you can help motivate you to get started on your journey. Several bloggers also have vegan guides and recipes to help make your journey even easier. Here are a few vegan vloggers you might be interested in:
    1. Pick Up Limes – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq2E1mIwUKMWzCA4liA_XGQ
    2. SweetPotatoSoul – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbmUfoOfNW04K9U7moSDDcw
    3. NikkiVegan – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXc8sao7QK8pm3g4vJpb5kg
    4. Simnett Nutrition – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpyhJZhJQWKDdJCR07jPY-Q

If you don’t find someone who inspires you, it might help to know that some of your favorite celebrities are actually vegan! Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, Kate Mara, Venus Williams, Ellen Pompeo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zac Efron, Madonna, Ellen Page, Liam Hemsworth, and Joaquin Phoenix are just a few popular celebrities who helping fight climate change by going vegan. Now it’s your turn! 

Works Cited

Finke, Photograph by Brian. “Eating Meat Has ‘Dire’ Consequences for the Planet, Says Report.” National Geographic, 16 Jan. 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/01/commission-report-great-food-transformation-plant-diet-climate-change/

Gustin, Georgina, et al. “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?” InsideClimate News, 8 Nov. 2018, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24012018/almond-soy-milk-non-dairy-climate-change-impact#:~:text=The%20dairy%20industry%20has%2C%20for,greenhouse%20gases%20equivalent%20to%2017.

“How Much Water Does It Take to Make One Steak?” PETA, 2 Apr. 2015, www.peta.org/videos/meat-wastes-water/

“Meat and the Environment.” PETA, 8 Jan. 2019, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-environment/

National Geographic Freshwater 101: Food, 18 June 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/food/

Nierenberg, Danielle, et al. “Meat’s Large Water Footprint: Why Raising Livestock and Poultry for Meat Is so Resource-Intensive.” Food Tank, 28 Nov. 2016, https://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources/#:~:text=Shock%20is%20reasonable%20after%20discovering,gallons%3B%20corn%20is%20108%20gallons.

Schiermeier, Quirin. “Eat Less Meat: UN Climate-Change Report Calls for Change to Human Diet.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 8 Aug. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7

Woodward, Aylin. “Researchers Calculated What Would Happen If the Entire US Stopped Eating Meat. It’d Be like Taking 60 Million Cars off the Road.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 11 Aug. 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/switch-from-meat-to-meatless-diet-environmental-benefits-2019-8#:~:text=The%20researchers%20calculated%20that%20if,of%20carbon%20dioxide%20every%20year. 

Organizations and Brands that Fight to Help the Environment

Finding trustworthy organizations/brands to support when it comes to the environment can tend to be difficult at times. Knowing which organizations to donate to and whether or not their intentions are pure are important things to factor in. Therefore, this article has composed a list of trustworthy organizations you can support and start using to ensure that your money can go toward helping the environment. 

White Sided Dolphin Beaded and Braided Bracelet 2-Pound Pack on a wrist
  1. 4Ocean

4ocean is a legitimate organization that is dedicated to ocean cleanups. These cleanups are completely funded by the profits made from the products they sell. They give a “One Pound Promise” in which they state that every product being purchased from their site goes into one pound of trash being clean from the oceans. Their products vary from adorable bracelets to environmental-friendly products such as reusable water bottles and straws. You can learn more about them and purchase a few items on their site

Zero Waste Face Masks - 2 Pack

2. Sand Cloud

Sand Cloud is an organization dedicated to turning recycled plastic into great-quality products. They take single-use plastic and are able to make incredible items such as towels, shirts, reusable water bottles, and so much more! Their goal is to reduce plastic pollution and save marine life. Not only are they creating high-quality sustainable items from recycled plastic, but a percentage of their profits also go into Marine Conservation. Learn more about their goal and shop their products on their website!

Picture taken from https://www.bustle.com/p/lushs-shark-fin-soap-is-back-100-of-the-proceeds-go-to-protect-the-species-17994689. Article is about the Lush’s shark campaign and what they have done to help save the sharks.

3. Lush

Lush is one of the more mainstream sustainable brands. However, their environmental involvement is usually overlooked due to their popularity. They focus on being as plastic-free as possible and tend to package most of their products in reusable materials. Not only that, but they often focus on specific issues, such as saving sharks, and have articles educating people about issues happening all around the world. Learn more about their #savethesharks campaign here.

Click the link to learn more about their website and switch to supporting their cruelty-free, vegan, environmentally-friendly products! https://www.lushusa.com/plastic-free-july-2020.html

Photo from the Coral Gardeners Website: https://www.coralgardeners.org/.

4. Coral Gardeners

Although this isn’t necessarily a brand that you can support, this organization’s motive is so important and deserves to be shared. A prominent issue in the environment is the global death of coral reefs, which are extremely important to the environment. This organization is dedicated to educating others about the importance of coral reefs as well as trying to save them. You can get involved by actually adopting one! Click the link to adopt your own coral reef and the organization will be dedicated to taking care and saving it. 

5. The Dolphin Project

The Dolphin Project is an organization dedicated to saving the dolphins. They have articles educating others about what’s happening to dolphins all around the world and are dedicated to saving as many dolphins as they can. They have a shop in which all proceeds go back to the organization and its goals. Click the link to shop their store and contribute to their project, and visit their site to learn more about them!

6. Ecosia

Ecosia is a free, legit, and safe search engine that uses its profits to focus on deforestation. It isn’t necessary somewhere to spend your money to support the environment, but by switching to this search engine rather than using Google, Bing, etc., you could contribute to the important focus on deforestation. Ecosia has already helped plant over 70 million trees since its founding in 2009. Click the link to learn more about Ecosia and switch to using them as your main search engine. 

7. Eco-Youth

Donating is one of the easiest things that some of us can do to make an impact on the environment, and even a small donation can go a long way. While there are endless places to donate to, we are one of the most trustworthy! Click the link to join the fight and donate to our gofundme where the money will directly be located into making our communities more eco-friendly! 

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Environment

Coronavirus: What providers, patients should know | Health.mil

After being stuck at home for several months due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, it’s been hard to focus on the drastic impact that the virus has had on the environment. There have been several social media posts spiraling throughout the internet, but it may be hard to truly grasp what’s happening. From an initial glance, it may seem that the indirect impact of COVID-19 has been nothing but positive; however, the virus has impacted the climate in several different ways. 

Positive Outcome on Environment 

The outbreak of the virus has globally kept people at home since nearly the beginning of March, and in some areas, people have been stuck at home since the start of 2020. As a result, environmental pollution has been reduced to nearly 30%. Reduction in pollution has had many positive effects on air quality, water quality, and several other areas. Images depicting the before and after effects of quarantine on the canals of Italy have virtually gone viral, illustrating just how it only took a few months of minimal human activity to not only increase the quality of the water but also bring back wildlife. The improvement of water quality and cleanliness has been a global trend since the beginning of quarantine, and lakes have particularly been doing well due to the lockdown of businesses and reduced activity. 

Deserted Venetian lagoon | Italy's efforts to limit the spre… | Flickr
Credited to European Space Agency, contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019-20), processed by ESA.

Not only has the quality of water been improving, but air quality and overall air pollution have also been doing well. The decrease in human activity as a result of quarantine has caused a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming is one of the planet’s greatest threats, with the most prominent cause being the emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. With an increase in the reduction of mobility, transportation through means of fossil fuel burning vehicles, such as cars, have also been reduced. As of 2018, transportation vehicles emit up to about 30% of all greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Not only transportation but the reduction of human activity, in general, has resulted in the reduction of nearly 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a decrease in pollutant gas emissions. 

The reduction of pollution due to quarantine has had several indirect effects of areas outside of the climate. As previously stated, better water quality and cleaner bodies of water are allowing more animals to find shelter and food in areas that were once polluted. Another indirect effect is the impact that clean air and better air quality has had on the planet. A study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine shows that in China, improvement in the quality of air has prevented thousands of pollution-related deaths in premature babies. An estimated 12,125 premature deaths were avoided because of the better air quality, as of May 4. 

Negative Impacts of COVID-19

Levels of environmental pollution have gone down due to quarantine, and areas such as beaches are beginning to clear up due to lack of tourists and visitors. However, there have been increases in inorganic waste. Quarantine has increased the demand for online shopping and at-home delivery, which has in turn increased both organic and inorganic waste generated by households. Medical waste is also slowly becoming a greater issue as used masks and gloves are beginning to pollute the streets and certain hospitals are producing a significantly greater amount of medical waste due to the surge of patients and higher demand. 

The most harmful effect that COVID-19 will have on the environment would likely come afterward. The positive changes that have been seen in the environment are unfortunately temporary, and as more and more people grow restless at home and begin going out again, not only will these positive changes go back to the way they previously were, but they could potentially be worse. With the focus being on the attempt to end the current pandemic, funding and financial support is being transferred from environment-related organizations. The current administration is aggressively pushing to reduce funding in necessary areas, and has successfully “suspended enforcement of air and water pollution regulations, curtailed states’ ability to block energy projects, and suspended a requirement for environmental review and public input on new mines, pipelines, highways, and other projects.” (National Geographic) The effects of this lack of funding and an increase in greater human activity as the pandemic becomes less of a threat could be catastrophic on the climate. We need to use this unfortunate situation as a wakeup call. After years of warnings about the dangers of climate change, it took a global pandemic to see a positive impact on the environment. We need to continue to fight for a better future because the long term impact that the virus could have on the environment could be more disastrous than ever.