A plant-based diet can possibly be the biggest contributor to the well-being of our mother earth. Wondering how? As most of us are aware, protecting the earth from harmful environments has always been one of the greatest concerns. Global warming, deforestation, pollution etc are some common ones we hear about. If you are looking to create a positive impact, these can get quite overwhelming! But how about trying to find simple ways?
|Currently, plant-based diets are typically known for their enormous health benefits. But it’s time we go beyond just their health benefits. Have you ever imagined that all of us together can create an environmental impact just with our plant-based dietary habits? Let us understand a little more about what exactly is a plant-based diet and different ways through which it provides environmental benefits.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is the consumption of natural foods derived from plants such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers, legumes, nuts, etc. They do not include animal products such as meat, seafood, eggs and dairy.
Effects of a plant-based diet on mother earth
Let us look at 4 important ways through which mother earth is benefitted by a plant-based diet:
- Preservation and pollution-control of water
The Agricultural Organization of the United States reported that livestock production accounts for major freshwater pollution. A significant number of studies stated that the production of livestock requires much more water when compared to producing foods for plant-based diets.
In addition to this, the waste products produced in livestock farming releases harmful substances such as ammonia which pollute the water and reduces aquatic species. A plant-based diet helps to control this pollution and prevents water shortage with minimal usage.
- Reduction of global warming
Grazing of livestock produces manure and wastes which contribute to 37% release of greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and methane. A major increase in global warming is due to these greenhouse gases. Additionally, factory wastes, fuel used for transportation also contribute to the production of harmful gases.
Plant-based diets help to control high temperatures and reduce the emission of these gases by absorbing more CO2 and releasing oxygen.
- Conservation of animal and plant habitats
Animal farming is one of the main causes of deforestation. Studies have stated that worldwide, approximately one-third of land that is capable to grow crops is being used to just feed animals for livestock production.
Livestock affects the biodiversity in different ways based on the changes made for land usage. For example modification of water resources results in disturbance of underwater ecosystem. Animal grazing also causes destruction of natural vegetation for native animals in the surrounding areas.
Plant-based diets prevent such threats to animal and plant habitats and protect their natural environment.
- Cutting down air-pollution
A number of factors involved in animal agriculture lead to air pollution. These include disruption of carbon balance, animal manure, waste storage/management, soil erosion, use of fertilizers etc.
The livestock sector emits a huge number of air pollutants such as ammonia, nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide etc. When exposed to moisture Sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides transform into acids. These acids are extremely toxic for the respiratory system. The harmful pollutants affect the environment in the form of acidic rains, dry grass with poisonous particles and bring about undesirable climatic changes.
Plant based-diets help to cut down the release of these harmful gases.
As mentioned above, your simple choice of a plant-based diet can bring about wonderful changes in the environment. Let us keep our planet earth in mind and make sustainable choices. Now is the time to do your bit and give your environment a chance to heal!
- Lynch H, Johnston C, Wharton C. Plant-Based Diets: Considerations for Environmental Impact, Protein Quality, and Exercise Performance. Nutrients J. 2018; 10(12):1841.
Plant-Based Diets: Considerations for Environmental Impact, Protein Quality, and Exercise Performance (nih.gov)
- Joyce A, Dixon S, Comfort J, Hallett J. Reducing the Environmental Impact of Dietary Choice: Perspectives from a Behavioural and Social Change Approach. J Environ Public Health. 2012;1-7
Reducing the Environmental Impact of Dietary Choice: Perspectives from a Behavioural and Social Change Approach (nih.gov)
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Livestock’s role in climate change and air pollution
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Livestock and the environment
- Alkemade R, Reid R, van den Berg M, de Leeuw J, Jeuken M. Assessing the impacts of livestock production on biodiversity in rangeland ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.2012; 110(52):20900-20905.
Assessing the impacts of livestock production on biodiversity in rangeland ecosystems (nih.gov)