When I first decided to stop eating animals, over 20 years ago, and later to stop eating dairy and eggs, I didn’t even consider the environment as one of the reasons why. I hadn’t thought about the environmental impact that animal agriculture has on the world. I had heard from different sources that animal agriculture was bad for the environment but most of the statistics went over my head and seemed so esoteric. Giving up some of my favorite foods for environmental causes was not a compelling enough reason to go vegan for me. I also didn’t consider health issues as one of my reasons to go vegan (I do now). I just didn’t want to contribute to killing animals if I didn’t have to. I mean, if you could live a happy healthy life without harming others, why wouldn’t you?
So when I talk to people about why I am vegan I rarely bring up environmental issues. They have always seemed irrelevant. But times are changing and I am learning that there are very compelling arguments for going vegan strictly for environmental reasons.
If you are interested in learning about the environmental impact of animal agriculture on our environment and do not want to do a lot of reading then check out the entertaining and educational documentary film Cowspiracy. Here is the trailer Cowspiracy. Cowspiracy was released a couple of years ago and has brought the environmental impact of animal agriculture to the general public in a very digestible format.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the sold out Cowspiracy Conference, in Berkeley, California. The venue was packed, the speakers were fabulous (including award-winning journalists and authors, environmentalists, and a former cattle farmer and lobbyist in Washington) and the food was great. There were so many people that I could not get in to see all of the speakers I wanted to see. It is amazing how many scientists, environmentalists and world leaders are stepping up and calling for us to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products. It is clear that for those who are passionate about environmental issues, veganism or at least vegetarianism must be considered.
Many environmentalists are arguing that animal agriculture is the number one cause of environmental destruction. The UN is even urging people to eat less meat and dairy.
It looks like the Chinese government is the first to take steps to reduce meat consumption through public policy.
The Chinese government has recently released new dietary guidelines to encourage their 1.3 billion people to reduce their meat consumption by 50% between now and 2030. James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger have teamed up to produce a series of public information videos to encourage the Chinese people to consume less animal flesh to help the environment. Here is a link to one of the videos and a great article in the Guardian on the same subject here.
The most compelling reason for me to be vegan is to reduce the suffering of animals. It just feels like the right thing to do. But isn’t it cool when the right thing to do works in so many different areas? Right for the animals, right for the planet, right for our health.
Are you vegan for the animals, your health or the environment?