The personal health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are seemingly endless, but the impact of being vegan on the environment and food industry are just as significant. For every person that chooses to live a vegan lifestyle, they further facilitate the vegan movement and fight back against the animal byproduct industry. One day, there will be enough noise for change to take place, and every movement starts as a small ripple.
Prior to going vegan I always thought that one person wouldn’t stand a chance to influence the animal byproduct industry. It appeared to be a battle that could never be won. Since going vegan, I’ve done more research into the impact of being vegan and what it can mean in terms of the lives it influences outside of my own.
The positive impact of being vegan:
A person who adopts a plant-based lifestyle can every day save:
- 1,100 gallons of water*
- 45 lbs of grain*
- 30 sqft of forests*
- 20 lbs of CO2*
Beyond the things plant-based lifestyles can save, the hope is that one day enough people making this change will have a bigger impact on the downsides of the animal industry – both the effects it has on the environment and the treatment of the animals themselves.
Many people who eat animals and animal byproducts don’t consider the effects this choice is having – it’s blind consumption. It’s how they were raised. It’s how things have always been. But becoming vegan, you begin to see the other side of these industries, and it can help to reaffirm your choice to adopting a plant-based lifestyle.
Impact of animal-based diets:
- Grain that feeds cows takes a lot of water to produce. One four-ounce hamburger requires, on average, 2,500 to 3,000 gallons of water*
- Factory farming has been placed ahead of transport for its contribution to the planets greenhouse effects. Roughly 20% of man-made pollution comes from the farming industry*
- Approximately 80% of corn grown in North America is fed to livestock. This could feed up to 1.3 billion people*
- One acre of land can produce up to 165 lbs of beef or 20,000 lbs of potatoes*
- 80% of food poisoning in North America comes from infected meat*
Animal treatment in other countries, today:
- 2 Lions will be killed in Africa
- 55 Dolphins will be killed in Japan
- 8,000 Dogs will be killed in China
A lot of people will talk about how the treatment of animals is worse in other parts of the world, the ideology being that we (as North Americans) wouldn’t kill exotic animals for food, our animals are bred to be consumed not wild, so it isn’t as cruel. But to other countries, they view these animals the same way we look at pigs or cows – food first, living creatures second.
But as bad as it may appear to be elsewhere, there are still major issues with the animal industry here at home in Canada.
Common arguments against veganism for Canadians:
A common argument I hear living in Canada is “oh it’s not like that in Canada, we have higher standards than other countries” or “Canadians wouldn’t kill animals as easily as they do elsewhere”. But daily, in Canada:
- 15,000 cows will lose their life
- 2,000,000 chickens will be taken to the slaughterhouse
- 80,000 pigs will be killed for human consumption
So, it’s up to you to decide, is it really that much better here at home? Are those deaths and the environmental impact worth what they produce? Is it worth it to sacrifice saving water, forests, and reducing carbon emissions?
When it comes down to it, and people ask how I can possibly live a vegan lifestyle and give up many food options, I think of all of the upsides to the environment and the lives I am trying to save and think – how could I not?
*Mercy for Animals