Can we say that veganism and ecology are linked ? Often when we hear about veganism, we have a healthier, more ethical, more environmentally friendly lifestyle in mind. But does adopting a 100% vegan diet really reduce its impact on the planet ? Can we have an impact on our planet by modifying our daily behavior outside our plate ?
1- The positive impacts of veganism on the ecosystem
The harmful effects of farming on the environment
We’ve known this for a few years and numerous studies show that each vegan citizen considerably reduces their ecological impact. It starts with the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are emitted in very large quantities during farming. Stronger than the one emitted by transport, it represents roughly 14.5% of global emissions ! And, it would soon reach 50% if consumers do not change their eating behavior.
If this greenhouse gas is also polluting, it is made up of nitrous oxide. This one is emitted by the production of cereals produced to feed livestock and responsible for 65% of the emissions of this more harmful gas than CO2. Added to this is the methane which comes from farm animals during their digestion process, also more harmful than CO2 ! Although less potent, CO2 is indeed present and is mainly emitted through the use of fertilizers, agricultural machinery, transport and deforestation.
Besides, let’s take an interest in the phenomenon of deforestation. The production of soybeans to feed livestock is the main cause of deforestation in Brazil according to Greenpeace and accounts for 63% of Amazonian deforestation. Agriculture and deforestation are the first two causes of this irreversible phenomenon : the more the forests disappear, the less the planet breathes … I let you guess the rest.
In addition to massive deforestation, there is a soil management issue. In fact, the land devoted to livestock occupies 4 times more space than the land devoted to producing plants for human consumption. This intensive farming is not without consequences for our ecosystem. Recently, we’ve entered the 6th mass extinction of species. And, this time, unlike the last extinction (that of dinosaurs), it is not due to a natural phenomenon, but to the behavior of men …
The impact is unfortunately not limited to land. It spreads to the oceans, which are overexploited for their resources. On average, 1 billion fish are caught, 40% of which are used to feed cattle, pigs and farmed poultry. In addition, among these fish are very often trapped species that will not be “useful”. The latter are thrown back into the water, already dead. According to experts, our oceans would be emptied of life around 2050 due to this over-exploitation.
Faced with this extraordinary breeding, the water reserves are therefore quickly depleted and the remaining ones are highly polluted. In number, this gives 40% shortage of fresh water, 70% of polluted fresh water and 30% of water consumption as a whole comes from the food industry. If each citizen does not reduce or remove meat from their plate, consumption of fresh water should increase on average by 50% by 2050.
This overconsumption of water due to breeding can be considerably reduced thanks to a vegan menu consuming 70% less water. In addition to consuming a lot of water, animal husbandry, due to the rejection in the water of fertilizers, pesticides, but also nitrates and ammonia coming from animal excrement, pollutes rivers. Causing multiple invasions of algae that suffocate aquatic life and contribute to the acidification of the oceans.
Reduce hunger thanks to veganism ?
But if the environmental and animal causes do not affect us, we cannot, normally, be insensitive to the human cause. We now know that 795 million people in the world are undernourished. All these people could be fed through the production of cereals or soybeans, but 90% of this production is intended to feed farm animals.
Here is a meaningful example : by killing an ox, we can prepare 1500 meals from its meat. If we take the amount of grain that was used to feed it (12 to 25 kg of vegetables to get 1 kg of beef), we get 18,000 meals. It is therefore clear that the vegan diet is the best food choice in many ways. But does being vegan makes you green ?
2- Adapting one’s consumer behavior
Adapt your vegan diet and opt for zero waste
“You’re vegan but you still but processed products sold in supermarkets” Many vegan have already heard this kind of remark about them. Indeed, being vegan is not a guarantee of an ecological behavior and caring for the planet, even ethical.
Choosing to go on a vegan diet is not always trivial. This choice stems from a desire to consume better, to ban the exploitation of animals but also to preserve our planet and its natural resources. So yes, it’s better to adapt your behavior outside of your plate and this requires a little re-education of our habits. Nothing too complicated, believe it !
The first thing to do would be to go to the stove ! There are lots of delicious and simple recipes, quick to make, that will save you from buying prepared vegan dishes. In addition these are often filled with sugar and wrapped in plastic. If you lack inspiration, go here: www.veganfreestyle.com and here http://minuitsurterre.com/youtubeuses-vegans/.
Simple gestures to adopt
Speaking of plastic… We’ve been hearing about it for a few years for the wrong reasons. Indeed, single-use plastic is very polluting, especially in our oceans. Out of 79% of plastic waste, only 9% is already recycled and 12% incinerated. To reduce your consumption of single-use plastic, a few first simple steps:
prepare meals and no longer buy prepared or frozen meals,
buy straws, shopping bags and reusable bottles,
give up chewing gum,
prefer cardboard packaging,
buy in bulk with reusable fabric bags,
prefer glass containers,
buy a toothbrush made of natural fibers like those from Lamazuna.
Regarding what you will put on your plate, it’s preferable that you buy in bulk, seasonal fruits and vegetables, produced in France. Therefore you’ll play a role in te drop in CO2 emission, due to transport. In addition, they are often better !
Favor ethical brands and stop fast fashion
These simple changes will help you be greener and to significantly reduce your environmental impact. Now you just have to become ethical ! After the petroleum industry, the fashion industry is the most polluting. This consequent pollution is due to the overproduction of textiles by brands belonging to what is called Fast Fashion.
Fast Fashion appears to be the biggest problem in today’s textile industry in terms of social and environmental responsibility. Most of their factories are located in Bangladesh, Cambodia and China, where 70% of rivers are worn out due to the chemicals spilled there. Unlike Europe, there are no regulations on toxic discharges into watercourses. The major problem comes from their overproduction which comes with overconsumption. A real spiral that puts pressure on costs and production times.
In these factories, there are dozens of underpaid workers, working an average of 12 hours a day and having no social rights. So, if you no longer want to give your money to brands belonging to Fast Fashion, alternatives exist to consume fashion in an ethical and ecological way. Think second-hand, thrift stores, Made in France or Europe, organic fabrics or vegan materials and think about recycling or selling clothes that you no longer wear. In addition, we recommend the docuementray The True Cost available on Netflix. It will turn you upside down.
3 – Advice: how to reduce you ecological impact daily ?
Being green and vegan at home
In order to reduce your daily ecological impact, there are multiple solutions that are simple to apply and that are effective quickly. Starting with your home :
- replace your conventional bulbs with LED bulbs consuming 80% less electricity,
- turn off your devices remaining in standby mode,
- install a foamer on your taps and a hand shower to save water,
- refuse advertising in your mailbox ,
- make a compost if possible, and sort out your waste.
In the 21st century, few are those who do not use the Internet. Surrounded by all this technology, it sometimes seems complicated to reduce its ecological impact on this side. However, there are also solutions to be greener by continuing to use the Internet !
Above all, remember to empty your mailbox regularly. You can also install a spam filter and unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters. This will reduce your ecological footprint and free your mind a bit ! You can also change your search engine by Lilo which transfers 50% of the money generated by commercial links to community or environmental projects or even Ecosia which plants trees with the income from commercial links.
App to be vegan and eco-friendly
In addition to these changes, you can download certain applications that will accompany you every day towards a more responsible lifestyle :
- Eat4Good proposes a test to rate your eating behaviour according to your environmental impact. Also, it provides information to eat more green.
- YesWeGreen helps you to find the good addresses near you to eat local.
- With a database of 50,000 products and their environmental and social credentials, GoodGuide scans product barcodes and tell you whether to buy or leave on the shelf.
- Pollution Ever wondered how clean the air you’re breathing is, right now? Based on your location if you let the app locate you by GPS and gives you information on different forms of pollution – air, radiation from mobile phone masts, water and earth – and see the results overlaid on a Google map.
There are many solutions available to us to reduce our ecological footprint. The first step is to become aware of the state of our planet as well as the condition of humans and animals. We have to consider the major issues involved in choosing to become a vegan and to modify our behavior as a consumer.
For this, it is obviously not necessary to stop everything overnight ! Everyone can proceed in stages, in the order that suits them, and act kindly towards themselves in case of deviation.