The greener choice

A vegan diet is good for the environment!

Here are just a few of the many reasons why:

  • 260 million acres of virgin forest have been cleared for cropland to support a meat centered diet, depriving countless species of habitat. This is growing at the rate of about 50 million acres a year.

  • Overgrazing contributes to desertification in many countries. Our 450 million livestock depend on a meager 12 million hectares of green fodder, amounting to 40 animals to a hectare. The burden should not be more than 5 per hectare. It takes approximately 16 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of meat or milk. Experts say that the growth in demand for meat and dairy products is unsustainable.

  • Vegans need less land. An acre of quality land can produce 10,000 pounds of green beans, 30,000 pounds of carrots, 50,000 pounds of tomatoes–but only 250 pounds of beef. The export of meat from India represents in a destruction of our ecology for commercial purposes. It is far more ecological to grow grains, fruits and vegetables than raise animals. A non vegetarian needs 16 acres of land for sustenance as against the 0.5 acres required for a vegan.

  • Animal husbandry contributes to water shortages. It takes 500 litres of water to produce 1 kg of potatoes, 600 litres of water for 1 kg of wheat, 2000 litres of water for 1 kg of rice, but 100,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of beef. Livestock consumes a high percentage of the world’s water supply.

  • Livestock produces 15-20 percent of all the methane, a major atmospheric pollutant and greenhouse gas, responsible for global warming. A recent UN report states that the world’s livestock is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the worlds cars together! A depleted ozone layer, higher rates of ultraviolet B radiation and increased incidences of skin cancer is the result.

  • Manure produced by livestock releases ammonia into the atmosphere, a major causes of acid rain.

  • Manure from factory farms pollute our water too. A typical battery egg factory with 60,000 hens produces around 165,000 pounds of excrement each and every week. The dumping of this waste inevitably ends up in our water system.

  • The world’s petroleum reserves would last for only 13 years if all humans were non- vegetarians but 260 year if all humans were vegetarian.

  • Like other species, cattle are ecologically beneficial only when their numbers are in balance with the rest of the ecosystem. With 2.4 percent of the world’s land area and 16 percent of the world’s human population, India has 20 percent of the world’s livestock population! (Animal Citizen Jan – March 2004, page 23) In search of fodder humans and cattle have encroached into forests and destroyed most of them. Today our national parks face a human-wildlife conflict. Barely 4.6 per cent of our land remains protected forest. If the system is to regenerate and support wildlife before desertification takes place, livestock numbers must come down drastically. The increase in cattle population is totally unnatural and is due to artificial insemination.
  • The argument that cow dung is an invaluable fertilizer and urine a bio pesticide loses its value when we consider that the biomass consumed by the cattle is not only an excellent fertilizer but also a ground cover, which prevents water evaporation. We resort to cow dung because with our population of livestock hardly any biomass is left to spare.