By Chloe Vande Kamp
Being that the globe is in the midst of an environmental crisis, dietary lifestyles—particularly regarding meats and dairies—are vital to the very survival of future generations. While low incomes can make dieting a less viable option, those living in the middle to upper class situations, such as the Temecula area, options are open. The choice is available to choose: to be more environmentally conscious, or to remain ignorant to the negative impacts of the food industry. The choice is pertinent to choose: to take up the responsibility thrust upon Generation Z by previous generations, or to fall into the same patterns of pushing the problem beneath the floorboards.
Even if the argument against animal cruelty proves too motivation-lacking for a switch, the impacts of animal agriculture remain, particularly in raising cattle specifically (keep this in mind). According to Penn State University, on average animal agriculture in the United States alone uses “36 to 74 trillion gallons of water annually.'' This is approximately 500 times the amount used for hydrofracking, the common villain of water waste. To put this into further perspective, the LA Times states that producing a “1/3-pound burger requires 660 gallons of water.” This means every time someone eats a burger, they are essentially showering for two months. And it is not just beef. According to NaturalNews, “it can take up to 2,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of [cow]milk,” almost twice the amount needed for one gallon of almond milk.
Water waste is a major problem, but it is not the only one. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, an astounding “14.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG [(greenhouse gas)] emissions” comes from livestock globally, of which “65 percent” is beef and dairy cattle. Emissions include carbon dioxide and methane, released via belching, flatulence, and excretion. Beef and dairy production makes up for a massive percentage of GHG emissions, and yet its consumption continues to remain a staple part of the American diet.
Vegan diets can be healthier. Essential fibers, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, folate and Vitamins A, C, and E are rich in plant-based diets. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide phytochemicals, boosting the immune system. However, it is important to address what a vegan diet may lack. According to Healthline, vegan diets may be deficient of “essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine or zinc.” It is important, thusly, to distinguish between whole-food and fast-food diets, the latter lacking most of the listed nutrients. In dieting, giving up one food may result in the absence of an essential nutrient. In veganism’s case: Vitamin B12. Supplements are key here. While they may seem costly, it can be quite the contrary. A sixty-tablet bottle of B12 (two months worth) for less than four dollars—this means as little as two dollars a month—at Walmart seems a small price to pay to save the environment.
So, raising cattle in particular, remember. A vegan diet is not available to everyone, even those in better living conditions. What is important here is not the label ‘vegan’, or even ‘vegetarian’. The most important aspect of these diets is the environmentalist mindset. Even eating a little less beef, or switching out some dairy products, can save millions of gallons of water, and prevent pollution. Every small step towards a sustainable diet is a small step that generations before never took; every small step towards veganism is a small step that could save the planet Earth.
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