Plant-based diets such as vegan and vegetarian have a number of benefits, ranging from better health; to a reduced impact on the environment; to promoting a more sustainable lifestyle and agriculture. The sustainability of plant-based diets stands in stark contrast to meat-based diets and will be one of the key themes of this series.
Recent controversy over the moral nature and unsustainable practices of the beef industry have also highlighted the ethical problems that surround a diet based on meat. For example, how do we justify the raising of cattle, chickens and pigs in often appalling conditions?
The recent documentary Cowspiracy (2014) has underlined the immense sustainable and environmental problems that face the industry. While climate change is rightly seen as one of the planet’s major challenges, the consequences of large-scale cattle grazing on emissions through the methane produced by cattle appears to be underestimated amongst environmentalists.
Indeed the sum total of methane from ruminant livestock (cattle) is an incredible 11 percent of Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions, according to research from Victoria’s Dept of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI). While studies continue on how to limit livestock’s methane emission, wouldn’t the smart option be to switch to a plant-based diet?
Making the switch to a plant-based diet is not only more sustainable and more ethical but also better for you as many scientific studies nowsuggest. In this series of articles, we aim to examine the superiority of a plant-based diet in all of these categories.
First we’ll look at the personal benefits of a plant-based diet. What are the advantages to our health when we switch to a non-meat diet? Then we’ll take a long, hard look at the environmental benefits of reining in the number of livestock in our diet. How would that affect emissions?
Most importantly we’ll look carefully at the sustainability factor. How sustainable is a meat-based diet in a burgeoning world population? Shouldn’t the enormous resources dedicated to raising livestock be better allocated to growing vegetables?
Lastly we’ll examine briefly the moral case against the treatment of livestock in a meat-based diet. We’ll look at the appalling conditions where animals are raised on a production line-like situation for meat.
There are many benefits of changing to a plant-based diet, both from a personal perspective and to help the environment as we enter a dangerous phase of our planet’s evolution. Check soon for the first in our series which will outline the positive results of a switch to a plant-based diet on our health.