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Eleven years – that’s how long we have to help the environment before irreversible and devastating climate change will occur and we’ll all be
fucked living off irradiated rice and beans in lead bunkers, only coming above ground to watch the bi-annual Hunger Games.
Who can predict the future?
SCIENTISTS CAN A BIT.
AND THEY’RE FRIGHTENED.
There are loads of articles (here’s one, and another, and another) urging us to cut down on meat consumption – and not from vegan-specific publications.
But how can eating less meat help the environment?
Cows are natural, no?
Yes, they are, and very cute too, but not in their current numbers.
WE HAVE ELEVEN YEARS TO STOP THIS, PEOPLE.
Or at least get it in writing that vegans get first crack at the rice and beans and are exempt from the Hunger Games.
There are countless small ways giving up meat helps the environment, but I’m just going to outline the biggies:
We can feed the world
We just choose not to. Changing climate patterns (which are most likely natural, though extreme) mean that many areas of the world are experiencing drought and general poverty.
You’ve seen all those kids on the Water Aid advert starving to death, yes?
It ain’t because there’s not enough food.
Because there is. It’s because it’s being fed to fooking cows. That precede to live miserable lives and wish they’d never been bred anyway (I know this. I asked a cow).
Ironically, the food is being grown in poverty-stricken countries. Water is being diverted to irrigate soya and maize, which is then sold to developed countries to feed to livestock because we can pay more money.
We can try to assign blame all we like, but without the extra billions of mouths to feed, food on Earth would go a lot farther.
I’ll explain exactly how much further in another section.
There’s been a lot in the press recently (ish) about how almond milk is the source of the world’s woes due to the vast amounts of water it drinks up.
As a result, a lot of vegans, myself included, stopped buying it and went for oat milk instead (or whichever one is cheapest).
Cool, cool, cool.
Except it turns out that cow’s milk is still worse than almond milk. It takes 30 gallons of water to produce a glass of cow milk and only 24 gallons to produce a glass of almond milk.
In general, it’s estimated that it takes 99% water to produce a pound of beef versus a pound of potatoes. Obvs some plants are thirstier than others, but I’m sure cows are equally varied.
46% or so of plastic debris in the ocean is from fishing equipment. Put that in your plastic straw and smoke it.
There’s also pollution from the vehicles used to transport animals, as well as vast quantities of manure that runs into waterways and pollutes river systems.
We actually studied this at school.
(Very) basically, the poo runs into the river and fills the water with nitrogen which makes everything grow like mad, but then there’s no room for oxygen so all the fish die.
Something like that. Here’s a link.
I was broadly in the right area.
Something to do with algae blooms.
Let’s move on…
Ah, palm oil, the plastic straws of deforestation.
Palm oil is potentially going to save us all, because it can be grown more quickly and sustainably than any other comparable oil.
I have a whole post on it, actually.
So we’re going to check for sustainable palm oil, but we’re not going to get too worked up about it. Ok? Being vegan is already doing so so much for the environment.
91% of deforestation is a direct result of animal agriculture. In South America, vast swathes of the Amazon rainforest were burned to make ranchland for cattle. Even more is being cleared to grow soya that will go to make cheap animal feed.
That’s an absolute disgrace.
Reduce energy consumption
Without considering the energy consumption required to raise an animal (heat lamps, feeders, grinders, whatever mechanical torture device they use to kill ’em), think about the pollution caused by transporting the animals to and from market, to the slaughterhouse, from the slaughterhouse (and now it’ll require refrigeration/to be frozen), to the wholesaler, then to the shop.
I know veggies need moving around too, but you can pack more in a lorry. There are also fewer trips to slaughterhouses etc.
In the UK we had an extremely expensive badger cull that everyone knew wouldn’t work. This is what my tax money goes to pay for.
As a general rule of thumb, if no one owns a wild animal, someone out there will want to kill it. Farmers want to kill rabbits and foxes, town councillors want to kill seagulls and pigeons, and gamekeepers’ll take what’s left.
Except for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs seem exempt from being intentionally killed by the various groups of wankers out there, but are instead slaughtered by their thousands on busy roads.
Our magical hypothetical vegan world
This is our alternative to the whole irradiated rice/underground bunker/hunger games future outlined in the beginning.
A man from Oxford University did a study (that I’ll link when I find it) that involved studying land use in a hypothetical vegan world.
He found that we can reduce the amount of land used for growing food by 3.1 billion hectares – or about 76% less than we use now.
Just think what we could do with all that land.
Think how many rhinos we could fit in it for a start!
Potentially we could all evacuate a continent (I haven’t decided which yet) and just leave it.
It’d be a cool experiment if nothing else. Like that one the scientists did where they left a load of orange peels in a deforested bit of the Amazon and left it, and when they came back it had grow lie nobody’s business.
I hope this post has given you a few ideas about how you can save the world. Lord knows it needs you.