EnvironmentEthics

Plant-Based foods- How it promotes water conservation?

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We all know that every living being on earth needs water to survive. But at the same time, it is the most misused and wasted natural resource. Water scarcity is one of the main environmental problems faced by many parts of the world. As per estimates, two-thirds of the world’s population may be facing water shortages, by as early as the year 2025. This can be changed with plant-based whole foods.

Although, water scarcity could be caused by both natural and a human factors, the greatest contributor to the cause is human activity. To reduce this, we often do small daily tasks such as turning off the faucet while brushing, using shower heads etc. But if you really want to make a difference with conserving water, then there is a bigger piece of the puzzle to consider. It is the food we consume!!

Do you know on average, a human being is responsible for the consumption of 15,000 litres of water a day! And half of our total water consumption goes towards production of meat and other animal products. It might seem hyperbolic, but it is the true fact.

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Why Food Choices Matter for Water Conservation?
Our food choices have a big impact on water demand. One way to look at how much water your food choice consume is by comparing the amount of water it takes to raise one pound of meat (poultry, beef, pork, etc.) relative to one pound of veggies.As per sources, production of one pound of meat requires 100 times more water than for that of one pound of grain protein! Another study compared the water footprints of different foods and found that the water footprint of soy burger is 158 litres while that of a beef burger is 2,350 litres, which is 14 times greater than plant-based food.

Dairy products also consume a huge amount of water. A report by the Water Footprint Network, reveals that almost 1,000 gallons of water is used to produce just one gallon of milk!
Additionally, rearing the livestock requires a significant amount of fresh water. This is because animal farms need water to feed animal, wash and clean their living spaces and to cool them during hot periods.

Now, the question is, don’t plants need water too? The water requirements of plants are much lower than that of the animals.

How a Plant-Based Diet Could Help Combat Water Scarcity?
A study conducted by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) has found that a plant-based diet is the most sustainable and environmental-friendly way to eat. Here are the major reasons to follow a plant-based diet:
Approximately 70% of freshwater is used annually for agricultural (food and nonfood) production globally and one-third volume of total water is used for animal farming.

Intensive animal farming can lead to serious water pollution such as eutrophication( characterized by excessive plant and algal growth ), or acidification that leads to loss of aquatic ecosystem balance.

On average it takes around 3,000 litres of water to produce one 200g beef burger which is equivalent of 5 minute of showers for 30 days.
Studies show that a plant-based diet reduces our water footprint by up to 55%.
Plant-based agriculture efficiently uses our resources such as lesser fossil fuels energy, land and water for food production.

Want an even more startling comparison? A typical acre of land can sustain enough cows to produce 250 pounds of meat. That same acre of land can produce around 20,000 pounds of potatoes and corns. Think about that. And studies showed that these corns and potatoes require only 100-110 gallons of water to produce one pound of produce, while it requires 18-20x amount of water to produce one pound of meat.

Going plant-based you save approximately 1,100 gallons of water every day and drastically reduce the water footprint.

Reference

Eight reasons to eat plant-based and save water for World Water Day 2019. https://www.hsi.org/news-media/world-water-day-2019/ . Accessed on:28-11-2020.
How Does Eating Meat Impact Your Water Footprint?. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/how-does-eating-meat-impact-your-water-footprint/ . Accessed on:28-11-2020.
How Eating More Plants Can Save Lives and the Planet. https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/how-eating-more-plants-can-save-lives-and-planet . Accessed on:28-11-2020.
Plant-Based Diets: Be Healthier while Reducing Your Water Footprint. https://cleanwateraction.org/2020/11/19/plant-based-diets–be-healthier-while-reducing-your-water-footprint . Accessed on:28-11-2020.

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