There. I said it. Now I can never take it back!
Why, you ask? I'm going vegan because, as I see it, this is the only way to truly live up to my own sustainability standards. I can't sit here and talk to you all about living a sustainable lifestyle if I'm not at least trying to live one myself. Cutting out meat and dairy is the most sustainable thing that a human can do these days, so that's what I'm going to do. Don't freak out. Just keep reading if you want to find out what exactly animal agriculture is doing to our planet...
Animal agriculture is the number one driving force behind climate change. Please read that again, and really let it soak in. Animal agriculture contributes to the heating up of our atmosphere more than any other industry in the world.
Wait, what? You mean I can start driving again? Yep. Animals being raised for slaughter and dairy production (aka cows) produce huge, huge amounts of methane. Yes, indeed, cow farts and cow poops release more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere than all the world's cars, planes, boats and trains combined. Holy. Shit.
Then there is the matter of what these cows are eating. Most of the world's beef is raised on a steady diet of corn and soy. Corn and soy crops that are grown with the aid of petroleum based fertilizers. We have to take into account all of the damages that come along with extracting those fossil fuels from the ground in the first place, and then we have the consequences of putting that junk back in the topsoil. Tons of that fertilizer ends up running off into our rivers, which run into our oceans. Vast dead zones are created along coastlines where no marine life can survive.
Speaking of water, growing all of that corn and soy (and the grass/alfalfa that the other cows are eating) requires immense amounts of water. A great deal of the world's arable land is used to grow food for cows, not food directly for us. A cow requires around 16 calories of feed to create 1 calorie of meat, and all of that feed requires water. Inefficiency at it's best here, people.
But wait, there's more! The growing global demand for beef and dairy is causing an ever increasing amount of land to be dedicated to this corn and soy and cow complex. We need land to grow food for cows, plus land to house said cows. Where do they all live? Well, where our forests used to be. Every day, acres of rainforest and other wild lands are cleared by the animal agriculture industry. We are cutting down the trees that consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, and we are replacing them with greenhouse gas emitting machines.
OK. So all of this sounds like humans are really dumb. But we can evolve! We really don't need to eat all of this meat and animal product in order to live, especially not in todays world. We can handle this, fellow humans. The good news is that if we all quit our addictions to meat and dairy, we can immediately start to reverse this whole climate change thing, and we can actually do it much faster than if we quit our addiction to fossil fuels. Not that we shouldn't be doing that, too.
I'm not here to depress you, but I might be trying to scare you just a little bit. I for one, am scared. Scared enough to try and remove myself from the equation in the hopes of making a difference.
I'm also not here to preach at you. I'm not telling you to go vegan, really, I'm not. I want to tell you all about my experience in an effort to inspire you, and maybe even encourage you. As I motivate and educate myself, I will be sharing tons of vegan things for you to read. I will talk more about the issues behind eating meat and animal products. I will provide you with delicious and easy vegan recipes. I will talk to my vegan friends and ask them about their stories, their tips and tricks, and their successes and failures in veganism. I might even review some vegan restaurants for you! I'm actually really looking forward to this. I hope you are too.