By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
Every year, the world marks Earth Day on April 22. Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the ‘modern environmental movement’ in 1970. Since Earth Day’s establishment, the fight for a clean environment has continued with increasing urgency, especially as the effects of climate change worsen.
Earth Day often leaves us wondering how we can reduce our environmental impact on the Earth — whether it’s by ensuring we are switching lights off when leaving the room, or avoiding single-use plastics and instead opting to re-use and recycle wherever we can. We often hear about the damaging effects our short-car journeys have on the planet, or how flying on airplanes less will help reduce our environmental footprint — but the truth is scientists have found that the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce our environmental impact on Earth is to consume a vegan diet.
Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from diet reduces individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent.
Similarly, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland used could be reduced by 75 percent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.
While much of world is quick to think their diet wouldn’t be contributing to the deterioration of the Earth, they’re incorrect. Meat and dairy production is responsible for 60 percent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. With livestock production being the single largest contributor of emissions around the globe (more than planes, trains and cars combined), removing it from our food system could allow the planet to breathe again.
Our continued raising of animals just for food is also the largest contributor to wildlife extinction around the world.
Whether going full vegan or trying out meatless Mondays, my previous columns have extensively covered how reducing the number of animal products in your diet is good for your health, but ahead of Earth Day 2019 I want to highlight how it will lower your carbon footprint which in turn helps save the planet.
We also need to ensure that we’re able to continue feeding the growing population of the Earth by reducing the amount of food waste. The world wastes between 30 and 50 percent of the food it actually grows — and a lot of this waste is perfectly avoidable. Many perfectly grown, fresh vegetables are rejected in the fields simply because they look different to how we expect it should. If we were able to reduce the waste of vegetables across the globe, it could help feed an additional 500+ million people a year.
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health.
Instagram handle: @Ghanim92
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