November is World Vegan Month, and in honor of this awareness, a list has been put together by Patricia Tallman, Special to the Vancouver Sun, of 30 reasons – one for each day in November – why we should move towards a plant-based diet. Combined, the reasons demonstrate how veganism will improve the sustainability of our planet and the survival of all its inhabitants:
1. Animal agriculture is a top contributor of global greenhouse gas emissions, leading to climate change. The UN Environment Program estimates that animal agriculture could contribute as much as 25 percent of global greenhouse gases.
2. Animal foods contribute to substantially more greenhouse gases than plant foods. The top two emitters are lamb at 39, and beef at 27 kg of CO2 equivalents per kg, followed by cheese, pork, farmed salmon, and turkey, ranging from 13.5 to 11g CO2e. Most plant foods – including beans, grains, and vegetables – fall below three kg CO2e.
3. Animal agriculture uses 50 to 70 percent of global freshwater resources.
4. Water scientists at the Stockholm International Water Institute warned that if the western diet prevails, there won’t be enough water to produce food for everyone by 2050. They suggest a diet with less than five percent of calories coming from animals.
5. North America’s average annual meat consumption per capita (roughly 24 percent of calories) is about 100 kg, over twice the worldwide average of 47kg.
6. It takes up to 100 times more water to produce animal protein than plant protein.
7. Water footprints for animal products are significantly higher than those for plant foods. Bovine animals top the list at 112 liters per gram of protein to chickens at 34 liters/g, versus an average of only 20 liters/g for cereals and legumes.
8. It takes 300 gallons of water to supply one day of plant-based food per person, 1,200 gallons for a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and a whopping 4,000 gallons for an omnivore.
9. Producing one pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, generates 40 pounds of waste, and emits a greenhouse gas equivalent of driving an SUV for 40 miles.
10. An average meat-based diet requires seven times more land than a plant-based, vegan one. Animal agriculture uses 70 percent of agricultural land.
11. The global cattle population (1.3 billion) consumes an amount of food (in calories) that can feed 8.7 billion people. Current world population is seven billion.
12. There are one billion hungry people worldwide; about six million children die each year of under-nutrition. Meanwhile, 1.5 billion people are overweight or obese.
13. Eighty percent of rainforest destruction is due to cattle ranching and growing mono-crops for animal feed.
14. Run-off from factory farms pollute waterways and contribute to oceanic dead zones – about 400 worldwide.
15. Routine antibiotic use in animal agriculture has been scientifically linked to the rise in superbugs such as MRSA in hospital infections, rendering treatment of human infectious diseases increasingly difficult.
16. Seventy billion farm animals are killed each year for human consumption. The horrific treatment that farm animals endure from birth to slaughter is unprecedented and carried out legally to maximize profits.
17. Egg-layers are de-beaked without painkillers and spend their entire one to two years of life in a space the size of a sheet of paper. All male chickens are killed by suffocating them in plastic bags or ground up live by high-speed grinders.
18. Broiler chickens are killed around six weeks old when their natural life span is over 10 years. Shackled upside-down at the slaughterhouse, those babies who avoid the automated knives and miss their throats being slit will be dumped alive in the scalding hot water.
19. Piglets are castrated, teeth clipped, tail docked, and ear-notched without anesthetics. The smallest in a litter are killed by pounding them against concrete.
20. Beef cattle endure third degree burns when branded with a hot iron. They are also dehorned, castrated, and ear-notched without painkillers. They are killed at 1.5 years old although their natural life span is over 20.
21. Veal is the flesh of a male dairy calf, separated from his mother, confined in a crate or chained to a plastic igloo for four months before slaughter, so that his flesh is soft from a lack of movement and his mother’s milk can be harvested for human consumption.
22. Production of GE crops, the majority as feed crops, have resulted in super-weeds and necessitated a rise in herbicide use.
23. The majority of health care costs are for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. They account for two-thirds of yearly deaths in North America.
24. A recent study from Loma Linda University found that vegans had a 78 percent and 75 percent lower risk, respectively, for diabetes and hypertension than meat-eaters.
25. Vegans have lower rates of cancer than vegetarians, who in turn have lower rates than meat-eaters.
26. The American Dietetic Association say that a vegan diet is appropriate for all stages of life, is healthful, and is nutritionally adequate.
27. Human physiology and anatomy resemble much more closely to herbivores and omnivores.
28. Consuming meat and dairy is not a personal moral choice when that action requires a third party to die and pollutes the environment, a public resource.
29. In societies with meat and meat-based alternatives readily available, it becomes difficult to justify killing innocent animals for their flesh, milk, and eggs for palate preference.
30. Veganz is the world’s largest vegan supermarket. Since opening their first store in 2011, demand had grown so much that they now have four stores and are set to expand across Europe.
Use this month to spread the awareness and importance of being vegan. But don’t stop with November. Go vegan year-round. We can make the world a better place – for every being. Veganism is green, healthy, compassionate, and yes, even profitable.