The climate crisis threshold years are approaching. The estimations of cataclysmic climate events are popping up sooner than expected. Governments, around the globe, are taking extreme measures to cut down their net carbon emission to zero. In all this haze, the question about animal-based food products, accounting for one-fourth of the total global greenhouse gas emission, is bound to rise. But, is turning to veganism, really the holy grail of reducing food carbon footprint?
Veganism: The New Movement?
The Climate Crisis is definitely worsening. But when talked about greenhouse emissions, most of the limelight is flashed over the use of fossil fuels and other conventional sources of energy. A study by the University of Oxford revealed that the food production industry is alone responsible for one-fourth of the total global emission. But, the environmental impact of this emission varies hugely depending upon the type of food.
The research highlighted meat and other animal-based products account for over half of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food industry while only providing one-fifth of the energy (in form of calories) we drink and eat.
In Veganism Really the Answer?
By the middle of this century, the world’s population is likely to approach ten billion. To feed this huge population, we would need to grow and manufacture 60% more food than we do right now. But, recent research is highlighting the daunting effect of the current consumption patterns on the environment. Along with emitting about a quarter of the global greenhouse, it also consumes about 70% of all the fresh water in a year, while covering about 40% of the earth’s surface.
Estimates show a stark 50% rise in the food carbon footprint by 2050, making the net-zero emission goal nearly impossible to meet. These exclusive finding coupled with cruelty against animals has given rise to the veganism movement. But, is veganism really the answer?
An exclusive study, with an assumption of the entire world going vegan by 2050, found that this global movement could reduce the global greenhouse gas emission by food by three-quarters.
Food Carbon Foot Print Distribution
Cows account for the majority of the emission. Bugs, in cow’s digestive system, produces methane, coupled with the needed deforestation for their pasture adds more carbon dioxide to the environment. The collective emission by all the cows in years makes them the third-largest emitter in the world. These gases warm the planet.
Farm animals need vast lands. A little over 80% of the world’s farmland is covered for animal production while producing only 18% of the world’s food energy (calories). Feeding a cow takes up 10 kilograms of grains to just grow one kg of meat, while for pigs the grain quantity is 6 kilograms, whereas, for chicken, it is about 4 Kilograms. Therefore, for producing feed off animals, a lot of food is first wasted on feeding them.
A survey found that an estimate of two-third of all the agricultural land is used as pastures, and if the vegan movement could change everyone to follow a vegan diet than, we would have landed as big as the continent of Africa.
Switching to a vegan diet, will not only help reduce carbon emission but also save lives, with more varied and fewer calories food. The obesity problem faced worldwide can also find its answer in veganism, making the global economy healthier.
Millions of dollars are spent in constructing medicines and treatments to tackle obesity caused by an unhealthy diet. If the world is to adopt veganism, about one trillion US dollars could be saved from these treatments and medicines.
But, things are not looking that good for now, as global meat consumption is on a constant rise. The cruelty against animals in factory farms has caused numerous movements in the past, but every time, the love for meat overpowers the abuse of both animals and the environment.
The Change is Happening
Many companies and firms around the world are investing in new ways to develop meat-less meat. These plant-based meats are further encouraging more people to go vegan. The meat-producing companies are happy to shift to vegan meat if there is a demand by consumers in the market.
Accessibility and affordability of safer and cleaners meat alternatives can pull the curve down. But, studying the past trend, the entire world going vegan by 2050 is a very highly unlikely scenario. To make this change happen, large-scale dietary changes must be put forth, if we want to stay below the disastrous levels of climate change.
But stepping towards a part plant-based diet could also help us travel three-quarters of the way. The government will have to play a vital role by providing plant-based dietary guidelines amongst the population. The present change in food consumption habits can save the planet from the forthcoming climate and health crisis. But, in the long, how governments around the globe act towards the veganism movement will be interesting to observe.