How does veganism link to climate change?

Many people who make the decision to become vegan state “climate change” as their main reason. Over the years, there has been significant scientific evidence to show the link between the meat and dairy industries and the climate crisis we find ourselves facing today. How are the two linked?

To answer this question in detail would require a broader knowledge of nature, agriculture and natural science, however below are two of the main points which highlight why a meat diet is harmful to the environment. Namely, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.

Approximately a quarter of all greenhouse gas emission comes from animal agriculture and the methane gas produced by livestock rearing contributes towards global warming. Animal agriculture also accounts for mass deforestation. In the Amazon Basin, the equivalent of 10 000 football fields are cut down per day due to animal farming. There is a compound effect which occurs when land is cleared for animal agriculture: The trees, which we know absorb Carbon and emit oxygen, are cut down and replaced by animals which release methane. So less oxygen is emitted and methane, the most damaging of all gases, is released. Deforestation also leads to a greater amount of soil erosion, greenhouses gases are intensified, the natural habitats for many species are lost, there is interference of water cycles which can lead to excessive flooding.

These shocking findings and figures demonstrate why the dairy and meat farms have a direct negative impact on sustainability. If more people switched to a vegan diet, the demands for meat and dairy would be much lower which would be majorly beneficial in helping to fight climate change.

The BBC noted recently that German MPs have called for higher tax on meat. Every day environmental Organisations are looking for meat replacements and ways to encourage people to eat less meat. In the UK, a group called #NoBeef work hard to see beef and lamb taken off student menus. In the US, various companies have created vegan burgers from an iron-rich compound called heme, which are now being eaten worldwide as people learn more about the negative effect of meat on our bodies and on the environment.

Meat, dairy and fish substitutes are on the rise and the demand continues to increase as veganism increases worldwide. As plant-based meals are becoming more available and more delicious, people are realising that having a tasty meal doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Article written by Tebogo Ramphele