Going Vegan for the Planet: Pros and Cons
Going vegan is becoming increasingly popular as people become more aware of the environmental impact their eating habits have on the planet. Are you considering going vegan to help the planet and reduce your ecological footprint? While transitioning to a plant-based diet can positively impact the environment, it isn't always easy. This blog post will look at both sides of the coin — the pros and cons of going vegan for the environment. We'll explore topics such as how plant-based diets can reduce carbon emissions, what challenges may come with sourcing ethical alternatives, and how you can take a sustainable lifestyle approach when deciding whether or not to go totally vegan. By looking at various facts and stories shared by vegans around us, we hope you'll be inspired to think critically about your food choices and start making small changes in line with your values!
The Health of a Vegan Diet
Going vegan has both advantages and disadvantages for your health.
Pros: Health Benefits from Fiber, Antioxidants, and Nutrients
On the plus side, vegan diets are high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes which helps lower cholesterol levels while increasing energy and overall well-being. Vegan diets also tend to contain antioxidants, folates, and vitamins A, C, and E. Vegan diets can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and may help protect you against developing cancer or chronic diseases.
Cons: Vegans can be vitamin deficient in some critical nutrients
On the other hand, vegans may be at risk of inadequate protein if they don't get enough variety in their plant-based diets. However, on average, most vegans and vegetarians get 70% more protein than needed every day. The main risk of nutrient deficiency in a vegan diet is when it comes to calcium, iodine, iron, and B12. Therefore, it's important to substitute with foods high in iron such as legumes and dark leafy greens when going vegan. Overall, with careful planning and attention to nutrition needs, it is possible to reap the potential health benefits of choosing a vegan lifestyle.
If you find yourself drawn to veganism, careful supplementation and work with a certified nutritionist can help you ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs.
Going Vegan for the Planet
Pros: There's a lot of data to show that veganism is good for the planet
The environmental benefits of going vegan are well-documented. For example, beef production requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gases than plant-based proteins. And it's estimated that 16.5% of human-caused greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture. So if you're looking for ways to reduce your environmental impact, one of the easiest things you can do is cut down on your consumption of animal products.
Eating a plant-based diet is not only beneficial for people's health, but it can also have positive impacts on the environment. Studies show that factory farming produces a significant amount of air and water pollution, as well as contributes to climate change. Globally, deforestation for factory farming emits 2.4 billion tons of CO2 every year – which could be reduced if more people switch to plant-based diets. Eating a plant-based diet may seem like a small individual action to make, but in aggregate, it can make big differences collectively. By eating more plants and fewer animals, we can combat environmental depletions while doing our bodies good with nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Eating plant-based meals helps reduce your carbon footprint because it requires less energy, land, and water than producing animal products. Going vegan also helps reduce other forms of pollution, like water contamination from pesticides used on crops for animal feed or runoff from factory farms. Finally, reducing our reliance on animal products helps protect wildlife habitats and conserve resources like grain and fresh water, which could otherwise be used to feed hungry humans instead of livestock.
If we all went vegan, food-related emissions could be cut by 70%
Cons: the vegan diet isn't always the greenest choice.
Not all plant-based foods have a small environmental footprint. For example, mainly crops are actually very water-intensive.
- It takes 60 gallons of water to grow a single avocado.
- Mangoes require 185 gallons of water to grow roughly 2 pounds of fruit.
- Tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews take approximately 1000 gallons of water to grow just over 2 lbs of shelled nuts.
Additionally, significant emissions are associated with transporting fruits and vegetables when they are out of season, which requires air transportation.
Veganism and Taste Preferences
Pros: There are more vegan and vegetarian options and what's available is constantly increasing!
Whether it's milk, cheese, or even beef, plenty of plant-based alternatives exist and have come a long way in terms of taste and nutrition, with the gap between them and their animal counterparts continuing to close. For instance, vegan milk can now be found in supermarkets everywhere and is increasingly associated with delicious flavors, such as oats, almonds, coconut, and even macadamia. Furthermore, plant-based cheeses now offer much of the creamy texture found in traditional cheeses, plus many are fortified with plant-based proteins for an extra boost of nutrition. Even hearty or rich dishes like burgers benefit from substitutes such as seitan or jackfruit; these ingredients provide a satisfyingly chewy bite that is sure to satisfy both vegan and non-vegan alike. Ultimately, it's never been easier to transition to a fully plant-based diet that has both environmental and health benefits for all of us!
Cons: Even for the best vegan food, the taste is different; there's no denying it.
You might be thinking something like:
If I go vegan, I'll never be able to eat my favorite foods again!
And if you tried some of the plant-based alternatives to your favorite foods, you might not have liked them.
But the best part is you don't have to transition 100% to a vegan lifestyle to do your part for the planet! If you are not interested in embracing a vegan lifestyle, you can always commit to eating a plant-based diet a couple of times a week or at a frequency that works for you. For example, if you eat animal-based products for every meal, you can transition towards having one vegetarian or vegan meal a day.
Every little bit makes a difference in reducing your environmental impact. Small changes, such as reducing meat consumption or making more sustainable grocery shopping choices, can impact your carbon footprint. And while going completely vegan might seem daunting at first, there are plenty of delicious recipes out there that make transitioning easier—you don't have to give up the flavor just because you're giving up meat or dairy!
So what's the best diet for the planet?
The answer: it's a bit complicated.
In general, the following things will help you reduce the environmental impact of your diet:
- Eat less meat and animal products (try something like Meatless Monday).
- Minimize the consumption of foods that are not locally grown.
- Shop at your farmers market to support local produce.
You don't need to be vegan for the planet. But eating less meat can make a difference!
Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to forego meat one day a week to improve personal health and the planet's health. Going without meat one day a week dates back to World War I and World War II and was revived in recent years. Going meatless for at least one day each week reduces your meat consumption by roughly 15% and helps prevent diseases like cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Ultimately, Meatless Monday is an easy way to make a difference at home: cutting out meat just once a week is good both for us and the planet!
Taking one day a week as a plant-based day could have incredible planetary effects. If every person in the US cut their meat consumption by 25%, we'd save 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It's estimated this would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the roads. Such an impact could go far in contributing to global sustainability goals. Although it's not a panacea, investing in stronger commitments to eliminate or reduce animal products one day each week is an easy way for everyone on Earth to play a part in helping our planet stay healthy and strong. With everyone coming together to go plant-based one day every week, everybody wins: the Earth is healthier, and people get healthier too!
If you're looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, trying vegan foods can be a great starting point—and it doesn't have to be all or nothing! While going fully vegan may not be necessary for everyone, reducing our consumption of animal products can have a hugely positive effect on the environment. Participating in something like Meatless Monday is one way to start making those small changes that add up over time - and who knows, maybe you'll find that veganism suits you after all! No matter what route you take, every small change matters when protecting our planet. 🌱