The Connection Between The Environment And Veganism: 5 Resources

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The Connection Between The Environment And Veganism: 5 Resources

From Vegan Soapbox
May 2013

Back in 2009 I published a list of resources for learning about the connection between protecting the environment and veganism. Now I’m publishing another similar list.

These lists are intended to help people write articles, give speeches, or create pamphlets that encourage meat-reduction, vegetarianism and veganism for the environment. If you have a class assignment about ‘saving the planet’ or if you want to help your veg group make persuasive pamphlets about eating eco-friendly, this list can help you.

Or… if you’re just curious about the connection and you want to learn more, then this list is for you!

Take a look below. There’s the title of the piece, the URL to it, and a description and/or a quote. Don’t forget to bookmark or print this article if you think may be useful for later. (Of course, if you choose to print it, please recycle the paper when you’re done.)

1. “Meat-Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health”

This guide comes from the Environmental Working Group. It was released in 2011. According to the graph on page 6, cheese is more than six times worse for the environment than tofu; beef is ten times worse than rice; chicken is six times worse than lentils. From the guide:

“If you eat one less burger a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles or line-drying your clothes half the time. [...] If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”

2. “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production Priority Products and Materials”

This detailed report by the United Nations Environment Programme published in June 2010 describes the cause of environmental destruction: over-consumption of resources. From the report:

“over the past 50 years humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable time period in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.” [...]

“Compared to industrial processes, agricultural processes have an inherently low efficiency of resource use, which renders food, fibres and fuels from agriculture among the more polluting resources. This is true especially for animal products, where the metabolism of the animals is the limiting factor.” [...]

“Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth, increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

3. “Livestock’s Long Shadow”

This report gives an in-depth look into the environmental impacts of animal agribusiness. The report was published in 2006 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Check out the report’s executive summary, part of which says:

“The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.”

“Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency. Major reductions in impact could be achieved at reasonable cost.”

4. “Putting Meat on The Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America”

A comprehensive, fact-based and balanced examination of key aspects of the farm animal industry published in 2008 by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.

“Both animals and their waste are concentrated and usually exceed the capacity of the land to produce feed or absorb the waste. Consequently, the rapid ascendance of ifap [Industrial Food Animal Production] has produced an expanding array of deleterious environmental effects on local and regional water, air, and soil resources.”

5. “The Low-Carbon Diet”

Article about meat-reduction and vegetarianism for the environment from the Audubon Magazine. Here’s a snippet:

“The typical American diet now weighs in at more than 3,700 calories per day, reports the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and is dominated by meat and animal products. As a result, what we put in our mouths now ranks up there with our driving habits and our use of coal-fired electricity in terms of how it affects climate change.”

“Simply put, raising beef, pigs, sheep, chicken, and eggs is very, very energy intensive. More than half of all the grains grown in America actually go to feed animals, not people, says the World Resources Institute. That means a huge fraction of the petroleum-based herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers applied to grains, plus staggering percentages of all agricultural land and water use, are put in the service of livestock. Stop eating animals and you use dramatically less fossil fuels”

I hope thise list of resources helps you go veg or encourage others to go veg.