In Western societies, vegetarian diets have become an essential dietary progression. However, we are still on our journey to a self-sustaining civilization where varied life forms and the ecosystem thrive.

A large-scale change from meat consumption to a vegetarian lifestyle appears to be an essential step along the road.

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution of a vegetarian diet.

Albert Einstein

Plant-based diets have numerous advantages in terms of health, environment, global food security, and animal welfare.

Vegetarianism is a sound strategy for promoting long-term environmental sustainability. On the other hand, livestock consumption and seafood are the two most steadily expanding diets globally.

Vegetarian dietary patterns are recommended as a strategy of shifting to a sustainable environment with four major counterparts, people’s health, ecosystem, food security, and animal welfare.

By eliminating meat and dairy from your meal, you can cut your food-related carbon footprint by about three-quarters.

And, adopting a vegan lifestyle could be the “single biggest strategy” to lessen the environmental effect on the planet.

Suppose each of us stopped consuming animal protein. In that case, worldwide farmland can be sized down by 75%, an area equal to the total size of the United States, China, Australia, and the European Union.

Table of Contents

1. Your non-veg diet is polluting the waters

Livestock feces, drugs, enzymes, and hormones infiltrate the water cycle, together with toxins from the leather industry, fertilizers, and insecticides used to saturate livestock crops.

River and stream environments are badly harmed by fertilizer or wastewater carrying organic matter from livestock. Agricultural animals excrete 130 times more than the whole human population of America.

And, because industrial farms lack sewage and waste treatment facilities like towns, this excessive amount of waste pollutes the natural water, destroys topsoil, and pollutes the air.

Industrial farming contaminants, such as nitrogen, phosphate, and antibiotics, inflict significant harm to marine and humankind as they enter the rivers.

Algal blooms are a specific matter of concern today, as they clog upstreams, deplete oxygen, and kill indigenous fish and wildlife.

Livestock feces in massive quantities may wreak havoc on streams and the ecosystem around them. During the late 1990s, the world generated more than 2 billion tons of livestock feces. Considering a nitrogen level of 5%, this compares to 100 million tons of nitrogen entering our water supply.

2. The Relation Between Meat and Environment

meat - being a vegetarian
Raw Red Meat (source)

The manufacture of red meat has a significant influence on practically every ecosystem element. Among the most critical and urgent issues is the production of greenhouse gases. And our world is heating quicker than anyone predicted.

Animal farming is one of the main contributors, which results from two processes in the cattle-raising industry.

Firstly, it would seem that we waste a significant amount of energy in farming the crops that livestock consumes, and then devouring the livestock is yet another source of pollution.

This pollution occurs because many domesticated animals, particularly livestock, are wasteful processors, consuming more food than they can produce. The volume of methane gas produced by cows is the second but most primary issue. 

Cows create as much as 500 liters of methane every day in emissions. And not to forget that methane is around 30 times more effective as a heat-trapping greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Most food fed to cattle accounts for around 45 percent of total grain consumption. In the meantime, we emit a significant volume of carbon dioxide and methane.

And again, we eat red meat, which is extremely bad for humans when consumed in large quantities. Hence, meat consumption is endangering both the ecosystem and public health.

The approach in which we are accustomed to producing meat presently, and considering the volumes of meat produced, we can see vast environmental impact measured by a range of indices such as carbon footprint, land usage, and water consumption.

3. Global Mortality Reduction

pills - being a vegetarian
An old hand with pills (source)

By 2050, global vegetarianism could result in a 10% reduction in overall global mortality. According to Springmann’s computer model analysis, if everyone became meatless by 2050, global mortality could drop by 6-10%.

And, fifty percent of this reduction can be attributed to eliminating red meat, with the additional advantages from reducing calorie intake and boosting fruit and vegetable consumption.

The virtues of a global vegan dietary pattern would be amplified even more: worldwide vegetarianism would save roughly 7 million lives per year. At the same time, absolute veganism would raise that figure to 8 million.

A decline in health expenses and bills would result from fewer people experiencing food-related medical conditions, sparing around 2-3 percent of global GDP.

However, achieving such anticipated positive outcomes would necessitate the substitution of nutritionally adequate meat replacements.

Because animal products provide more micronutrients per calorie than vegan mainstays like cereal grains, finding a suitable substitute is crucial.

4. Evidence and Recommendation

CO2 - being a vegetarian
The carbon footprint from red meat to vegan food (source)
  • As per research from Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School, a global shift to lifestyles that depend less on animal protein and more on fruits and veggies might cut greenhouse emissions by as much as two-thirds.
  • According to Scientific American, cultivating half a pound (226g) of potatoes releases the very same harmful emissions as operating a compact car 0.17 miles (0.2km). Likewise, half a pound of beef generates the same amount of emissions as driving a car for 9.8 miles (12.7 km).
  • A chicken breast takes over 735 liters of water to produce, which could fill up your bathtub 4.6 times. 

5. A vegetarian lifestyle is ethical

Do not eat animals - being a vegetarian
Primary ethic behind veganism (source)

World Vegan Day falls on the first of November, but every day is an excellent reminder of all the reasons that turning vegan may save the planet.

Livestock such as cows, pigs, chickens, etc., are entitled to fair existence. They are friendly and clever creatures with every emotion equivalent to how we feel.

They don’t have to agonize from the moment they are born until they die. But, for many animals, it is their reality when they are birthed into industrial farms.

Although some meat industries adapt their business strategies to massive backlash over farmed animals, an overwhelming bulk of meat sold in shops, restaurants, and supermarkets is raised in horrendous conditions.

6. Vegan meals do not have to be dull

Dishes - being a vegetarian
Multiple yummy Vegetarian Food dishes (source)

Perhaps if you only eliminate meat from one or two lunches and dinners per week, you will make a difference in the sad tragedy of environmental degradation.

The most popular argument about veganism is that it causes you to give up your taste receptors since meat tastes better and is quicker and more efficient to prepare.

Although the flavor is a personal variable, and many folks “demand” meat and not necessarily “need,” the resistance to veganism stems from cultural conditioning rather than genuine realities.

Greens and beans are pretty tasty. If prepared thoroughly with a few natural spices, they provide a lot of richness. Pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, and other nuts are all delicious.

Likewise, rice and quinoa are tasty grains. Almost all of the vegetarian and vegan diet items are tasty and bountiful. 

Want to go Vegan starting this November?

attractive dishes - being a vegetarian
Attractive vegetarian dishes that can lure you into being vegetarian (source)

You really shouldn’t panic if you want to go vegan but are having trouble overcoming temptations or surrendering a particular food item. This stress is perfectly acceptable! All of those are difficulties but certainly shouldn’t have to be roadblocks.

  • Become a vegetarian first and subsequently vegan, either all at once or by eliminating milk products and eggs at first.
  • Begin gathering vegan meal recipes that resonate with your taste and explore. Become acquainted with creating a few unique fast and cheap vegan snacks.
  • Replace morning milk with a non-dairy option like rice or soy milk. For the most part, this is a simple change, and most people love it!
  • Eliminate animal protein gradually, beginning with the simplest and working your way up to complex foods that you have difficulty giving up.
  • Reduce the amount of animal-based foods you consume while doubling the amount of plant-based foods. Maintain your diet until all meat and poultry have been removed from your meal. 
  • Increase your intake of whole grains, cereals, beans, pulses, tofu, nuts, soy, and seeds.
  • Start paying attention to food labels; you might feel more comfortable and start avoiding animal-derived substances one at a time.

To Wrap Up

Although there appears to be a convergence between environmental morals and animal protection discourses, this creates a dilemma.

While the ethical, environmental, and health justifications for vegetarianism and veganism appear to be mutually reinforcing, there may still be contradictions within them.

In certain circumstances, ecological concerns may contribute to divergent, if not contradictory, views on animal farming and the universal applicability of vegetarianism. 

In any case, if we could somehow reduce meat production and consumption, it would enhance our well-being and the status of our environment. Furthermore, it will aid in combating the horrors of climate change.

(Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!