Veganism for the environment

  • One easy way for me to positively impact the earth and the climate, on both a micro and macro level, by being vegan. Not only do I chose this philosophy because of ethics and for health, but also because I couldn't ignore the science that proves how destructive and unsustainable this industry is.
    Prior to going vegan, I found myself living in a moral hypocrisy where I would say I care about the planet and the animals in it, but would continue to consume them and exploit them for food, clothes, beauty products etc when I didn't need to. Once I watched several documentaries and did the research for myself, I knew I could no longer claim to be blissfully ignorant.

    These are just some environmental facts:
    *The UN stated that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to shift to a plant based diet.
    *Animal agricultural uses 37% of the land just to graze animals. It is so important to focus on land use because land stores 3x as much carbon as the atmosphere.

    • The animal agri industry is also responsible for 91% of rainforest destruction
      *It is also responsible for topsoil erosion, land desertification, oceanic deadzones (vast areas of the ocean that are devoid of life)
    • When we look at human-induced greenhouse gases, animal agriculture is responsible for producing 51% of all greenhouse gases (this is greater than the entire transportation system combined, which makes up 13% of green house gases). Methane from cows lasts in the atmosphere for 12.4 yrs on average and then breaks down into CO2, and is 130x more powerful than CO2 (yet know one hears about this).
      There are many more environmental problems that stem from the animal agri industry, and
      I encourage everyone to look at the research and data, check who is funding the research, and look for where they are obtaining their baseline numbers from.

    I HIGHLY recommend watching the following documentaries that focus on climate change:
    -Our Planet
    -Living in the Future's Past
    -Before the Flood

    If you have any questions about veganism as a method to combat climate change, feel free to reach out 🙂 I'm certainly not perfect when it comes to reducing my carbon footprint, but I'm always striving to do better!

  • @Jacara Excellent post, thanks for sharing your story.

    A few questions for you:

    • When did you decide to change your eating habits? Was it solely driven by the documentaries you listed?
    • Did you make a transition all at once or gradually over time?
    • What were the biggest challenges you experienced in your transition?

    Love your use of statistics here. Given that we're trying to use a fact-based and scientific approach to solving the climate crisis, are you able to provide your sources for the information you provided? If we can back up the points you make with reputable data, it gives your words even more power 💪

    One final point that I'd love to make to others reading this is that any change is good. Don't feel anxiety if you aren't 100% vegan or vegetarian. Reducing your meat consumption makes a difference too. We're all in this together and everyone can play a part in climate solutions no matter where they are in their own journey ♥

  • @Jacara super inspirational! what protein sources do you use mainly to supplement? I find it hard to make sure I'm hitting my macro nutrient goals sometimes

  • @Jacara the secondary effects that you're mentioning are eye opening. I wouldn't have even thought of something like topsoil erosion causing run on problems. thanks

  • @ericvanular Great questions! Around 7 or 8 years ago when I was in high school I was pescatarian (refraining from eating meat, except for fish) and then I transitioned to being a vegetarian. When I went to university, I reintroduced meat into my diet because the residence that I lived in refused to provide adequate plant-based options that I could tangibly survive off of. To answer your question, I believe it was at the beginning of 2017 where I watched documentaries like Cowspiracy and What The Health, and activists such as Earthling Ed on YouTube that really opened my eyes to the impacts of animal agriculture. My change was ultimately driven by aligning my morals and ethics. I went plant-based (meaning that solely my diet) right away and shifted my purchases to plant-based ones. Part of my transition was using up the food that I had or giving it to a friend so that I wasn't throwing out or wasting food.

    My transition to veganism (the full lifestyle and philosophy) has been over time! I started by consuming plant-based foods, then I started to become a more conscious consumer by transitioning my clothes, makeup, skincare, etc. products to vegan alternatives. I'm still constantly looking for vegan alternatives to products that I used to love, that are affordable and similar in quality so that I don't feel I have to compromise. I also strive to buy products where I can in bulk.

    I still may wear clothing and products that I previously owned that I purchased before I went vegan, however, I do not and will not go out and buy new products that use animals or their byproducts. To me, it would be wasteful to throw away these clothes or products, so I wear them, donate, or give to a friend. Some people may disagree with this but to each their own.

    My biggest challenge was probably myself and my mindset. I kept thinking of veganism like I couldn't eat foods I liked anymore. I would catch myself saying, "Darn, I guess I can't eat that anymore". However, when I started to solidify my morals and remember the reasons why I was doing this, it became so much easier. I shifted my negative thinking to "I can't eat that" to "I can eat that, but I CHOOSE not to". I was naive and used to view this diet as "restrictive", but I ended up proving myself wrong. I found that my relationship with food changed and that this lifestyle has opened my eyes to a plethora of cuisines that I probably never would have experienced.

    I am more than happy to provide sources for these stats. I initially was actually going to insert all of my sources before but didn't want people to feel that my post was becoming academic.
    Here are my sources in order of my bullet points:
    - ("The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change." and more than 100 scientists from 52 countries put together this report)

    Margulis, Sergio. "Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon". World Bank Working Paper No. 22. 2003

    Tabuchi, Hiroko, Rigny, Claire & White, Jeremy. "Amazon Deforestation, Once Tames, Comes Roaring Back". New York Times. February 2017(New)

    Bellantonio, Marisa, et al. "The Ultimate Mystery Meat: Exposing the Secrets Behind Burger King and Global Meat Production". Mighty Earth (New)

    Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

    -Topsoil erosion, ocean deadzones, land desertification stat reference (i could list countless sources for this, however this website lists many here):

    -Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”

    Goodland, Robert & Anhang, Jeff. "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs and chickens?". WorldWatch. November/December 2009

    Hickman, Martin. "Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases". Independent. November 2009

    Hyner, Christopher. "A Leading Cause of Everything: One Industry That Is Destroying Our Planet and Our Ability to Thrive on It". Georgetown Environmental Law Review. October 23, 2015.

    I often look to YouTuber Mic The Vegan as he critically analyzes research and data and provides a critical discourse, rooted in science.

    Sorry for the lengthy response, I merely want to be thorough.
    I'd also like to agree with you, Eric. Any small changes we make are valid, and progress is progress no matter how big or how small. As consumers, we vote for things with our dollar. Everything we do makes an impact, and all we can do is try our best. I want to make it abundantly clear, that I do not judge anyone that is not vegan, as I was not vegan for the majority of my life. I also do not believe that veganism is the only way to help positively impact climate change. I am always growing and evolving in my environmental activism, and believe in the importance of intersectionally. Thank you for engaging in this conversation with me, and I hope I was able to answer your questions.

  • @Jacara WOW this is an absolutely astounding level of detail! Big kudos to you for the extremely detailed responses. You're definitely making a positive impact here.

    To me, it would be wasteful to throw away these clothes or products, so I wear them, donate, or give to a friend.

    Totally agree. In fact, I think material minimalism is one of the best life approaches you could take. Our society constantly pushes people to consume more... more clothes, more gadgets, more everything. In order to get to a global state that is sustainable, we need to collectively reduce our addiction to consumerism.

    this lifestyle has opened my eyes to a plethora of cuisines that I probably never would have experienced

    Reading this made me think about how it seems like many people are reluctant to cut meat because they're unsure of what meals to make. What are some of your go to meals?

    I am more than happy to provide sources for these stats. I initially was actually going to insert all of my sources before but didn't want people to feel that my post was becoming academic.

    Valid concern. These are great sources though and I think giving us the ability to dive deeper would inspire others to do their own research. I wonder if there's a middle ground here - maybe it would be valuable to start a new thread as a place to start collecting solid sources for the community to access? What do you think?

    we vote for things with our dollar

    100%. I've been feeling more and more that we have to use capitalism itself to fight climate change since conventional approaches aren't working fast enough. I wrote a piece about it in the context of renewable energy here if you're interested

  • @ecojoy generally, people worry way more about protein than they need to. The rule of thumb is that if you're getting enough calories from healthy, whole plant foods, you're almost certainly getting more than enough protein. Even for bodybuilding! Note that people on a typical western diet get TWICE as much protein as they actually need. That excess protein just gets inefficiently converted into carbohydrates by your body.

    Many people who go vegan make the mistake of under-consuming calories -- that's what can make them feel hungry frequently. You can't take something like a cheeseburger and replace it with vegetables -- you'll be getting WAY too few calories. Veggies like broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, etc. have very little calories. A vegan diet needs to be based on starchy vegetables and grains for calories, like potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, legumes, etc. (Unless you're doing Keto, but I can't really recommend that -- there's not a lot of research on its safety, and what there is indicates that it can lead to some health problems.) Starches are less energy-dense than foods like dairy, meat, eggs, and fish, so you have to eat a bit more of them. You want a good portion of starchy food as the base of every meal.

    For example, a portabello mushroom burger is WAY less calories than a hamburger, unless you drown it in oil. A black bean burger is a lot closer -- beans and legumes are very calorie dense.

    I hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck with your nutrition.

  • @numberwang interesting. what sources have you used to find recipes or meal plans that allow you to hit your macro nutrient goals?

  • @olliej It blew me away too!

  • @ecojoy also another interesting documentary is The Game Changers (on Netflix). Obviously needs to be taken w a grain of salt but raises good points about plant based diets in the scope of sports nutrition!

  • @kvigonic do you know of any academic studies that have been done on the effects of plant based diets on athletes' performance? might be interesting to learn about

  • Replying to put particular emphasis on what @Jacara said here:

    *The UN stated that to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the world needs to shift to a plant based diet.

    It is absolutely necessary that the world quickly moves toward a more plant-based food system in order to have a hope of limiting planetary warming to 2º C. A failure on this front virtually guarantees that the target will be missed.

    This change (global shift to a plant-based food system) is not sufficient on its own to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but it is a necessary mitigation that must be combined with other better known mitigations like renewnable energy and electric cars.

    One effective way of demonstrating this is by using the Global Calculator to simulate scenarios with (and without) a shift toward plant-based diets. The difference is quite pronounced, and it's hard to make any scenario work unless a plant-based shift is incorporated.

  • @numberwang I've heard conflicting views on whether plant based diet advocates are consuming too much or too little protein. What sources have led you to have take view?

  • @Jacara also curious if you use any nutritional supplements?

  • @Sam-Hughes has a pretty clear, well-sourced explanation of protein requirements and veganism.

  • I, too, have moved to a plant-based diet. I don't say vegan lifestyle because there are still many products in my current environment that I haven't swapped over yet (the amount of stuff that is NOT considered vegan is astounding). Thank you too, for your moderate and considered opinion on why and how you've moved to veganism - I've come across too many "militant vegans" who seem to think that shouting at people trying to give up animal products in their diet, is helpful.

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