Is a Vegan Diet Better for the Environment?

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is vegan diet better for environment

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For several decades, people have been striving to live a healthy life that includes a balanced diet and lots of exercise. Fitness and health gained a lot of popularity over the years, and people started considering vegetarianism as a lifestyle.

While many people were slowly transitioning to the vegetarian lifestyle, the vegan way of life was introduced as being healthier and beneficial to the environment.

What is the vegan way of life?

Vegan Diet Better for the Environment

The vegan way of life or veganism is not very different from vegetarianism. A vegetarian is a person who does not consume any kind of animal product such as meat, fish, and poultry. But their diet includes dairy products such as milk and eggs.

Vegans, similar to vegetarians, do not consume animal products. However, unlike vegetarians, they also do not consume any animal-based products such as dairy, honey, or any by-product made from animal or animal skin.

There are two types of ethical vegans; plant-based vegans and raw vegans. While plant-based vegans live on foods that grow from the ground only, raw vegans do not eat animal products or any food cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

They believe that food loses its nutrients and enzymes when cooked at high temperatures. Ethical vegans are those who put their ethics forward instead of their stomachs. Their love for animals and the environment is stronger than the desire to consume an animal-based diet or even use any product made of animal skin or animal parts.

Is a vegan diet good for the environment?

There is a growing concern about how our habits are ruining our planet. The sea levels are rising, the temperature change is extreme, and natural disasters are more severe.

Our planet needs more help than ever right now, and adopting a sustainable vegan diet might be the answer to preserving the environment. We can help the environment by fighting climate change and establishing a sustainable food system.

Several measures were proposed to save our environment, such as the ban on straws, ban on plastic, carrying one’s shopping bag, shorter showers, carpooling, and more. As much as these measures did contribute to a better environment, many researchers linked animal agriculture to a slew of environmental issues.

Researchers believe that it is important to change what people expect on their plates to reduce the impact on the planet. A comprehensive analysis of the effects of farming on the environment found that the single best thing a person can do to lessen the impact on the world is to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

How does a vegan diet contribute to a better environment?

vegan diet

Did you know that meat and farmed livestock or dairy accounts for more than 14.5% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions? What’s more shocking is that it is roughly equal to the exhaust emissions of every car, ship, aircraft, and train on the planet!

If every person on Earth adopts a vegan diet, it will take nearly three decades to drop the world’s food-related emissions by not more than 70%, and the vegan diet contributes to reducing global warming.

In fact, a 2018 study published in Science found that shifting to a plant-based diet could reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%. The study also established that plant-based diets can reduce land use and water use compared to diets that include animal products.

Another study by the University of Oxford found that a vegan diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 73%. According to the the study’s research director and lead author, Joseph Poore, consuming plant-based foods can help in slashing an individual’s carbon footprint, and prevent eutrophication, and global acidification, while also reducing land and water use.

There are several other benefits of a vegan lifestyle that can contribute immensely to improving the environment. These include:

Reduced CO2 production

The livestock sector and human-related activities in this sector produce a larger share of harmful greenhouse gases, which can be reduced with a vegan diet.

Reduced nitrous oxide/methane production

The percentage of ammonia, nitrous oxide, and methane emissions by the livestock industry is reduced drastically. A vegan diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions and methane cycles out of the atmosphere.

Saves and preserves water

Animal waste, antibiotics, and hormones enter the waterways and pollute them as do chemicals from fertilizers used on crops that severely harm the ecosystem. Humans can reduce the effects by adopting a vegan diet.

Reduced destruction of tropical rainforest

Livestock farming leads to overgrazing, which causes soil erosion, deforestation, and desertification. A vegan diet can help reduce this. It also reduces wildlife destruction as these animals will not be forced to evict from their homes for animal farming and cultivation.

Reduced use of chemicals, antibiotics, and growth hormones

The livestock industry, including the fish industry, uses a wide variety of drugs to produce more benefits. However, these chemicals have detrimental effects on the environment and human health. For instance, they have been linked to a rise in cancer cases across the world.

A vegan diet would reduce the use of these drugs.

Reduced ecological footprint

You would contribute to a reduced ecological footprint by switching to a vegan diet and also cause less harm to the planet’s non-human inhabitants.

A sustainable environment

As the world population grows, so does the demand for food, fossil fuels, and fresh water. Cattle grazing has been found to cause more damage to the environment than many other forms. As the demand for meat grows, so does production, which puts additional strain on the environment.

A vegan diet can help reduce the demand, and in turn, create a more sustainable environment.

Final thoughts

As a vegan, you’re already contributing to a better environment. If you plan on becoming a vegan, then you’re one step closer to improving the environment.

  • Luke Rooks

    Luke is a passionate environmental advocate based in upstate New York. When he's not sharing tips on sustainability and wellness, you can find him hiking with his dog, Max.

1 thought on “Is a Vegan Diet Better for the Environment?”

  1. Let us take a look at soy, which is a popular plant-based protein in vegetarian and vegan communities. In Brazil alone, the destruction of native vegetation for soy plantations has released 210 million tons of CO2 from 2006 to 2017 and about 10% of all the land deforested in that timeframe also was used for soy plantations. In addition to that we must add production/processing and import/export emissions.
    Another thing that should be considered is the fact that beef, when effectively managed, can actually regenerate lost or damaged land. By using holistic management techniques, the cattle get moved around the fields like buffalo herds. The cattle stamp seeds into the ground with their hooves, speeding the establishment of trees and grasses and stimulating root growth. Then the cattle get moved to the next place to prevent overgrazing and allowing the vegetation to resprout and flourish. By doing this, Thiele and the farmer Brian Harper doubled forage production, improved forage quality and have doubled the pounds of beef per acre. In addition to that, they are now pumping 7,5 tons of carbon per acre per year into the soil, around 40 cm deep. If the cattle are furthermore also grass-fed, it should be possible for the whole operation to be carbon neutral.
    One more thing to think about, before you start a vegan diet, is the need for supplements. There are several vitamins and minerals that cannot be found in a vegan diet like, for example, Vitamin B12, Iodine and selenium, which are essential for your health. These supplements are often made from ingredients that are not farmed sustainably. They are farmed on lands, which were forests, and covered with fertilizers and pesticides. Another problem that is not often discussed is an omega 3 deficiency, while it is possible to get it from plants in a way by converting plant-based ALA, but those plants are also high in omega 6, which gets turned into arachidonic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fat that can become pro inflammatory when levels get too high. An imbalance of omega 6 to omega 3 is also theorized to be a major cause of the chronic illness epidemic in the US. For more information you can look here: Vegans and Omega-3 Deficiency: EPA is Easy, DHA is Hard – Gene Food ( It is also hard to simply take omega 3 supplements, since those are often based on fish. About 20% of all the fish caught is not used for food, but for supplements.
    There are other points in your article that can be proven as telling only one side of the story. I do not wish to in anyway offend you, it is just that a more balanced, a more neutral and factual article would have been preferred.
    These are some of the sources I used.
    Brazil soy trade linked to widespread deforestation, carbon emissions (
    Why the vegan diet is not always green – BBC Future
    Restoring the Range: Can Beef Be Earth-Friendly? – YES! Magazine (
    How to restore depleted soil with cattle (
    Vegans and Omega-3 Deficiency: EPA is Easy, DHA is Hard – Gene Food (
    Do vegans need to supplement? | The Vegan Society


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