Veganism and it’s effects on climate change

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Photo by Aja Schiller

The vegetable aisle in the local grocery shop, Roxy’s.

There’s a multitude of reasons why someone might become vegan, but a main topic of contention may be how veganism can contribute to slowing down climate change. Many people are uninformed about how veganism actually affects climate change.

According to the United Nations 2014 report, one cow produces between 150 pounds to 250 pounds of methane a year, which means that in 2014, 9% of all greenhouse gas emissions were from agriculture alone. A more recent study in 2016 from the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, shows that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have stayed at 9% over those two years. Social media was blasted with the vegan “trend” back in 2014, and yet the statistics have stayed the same.

Although a large portion of pollution comes from agriculture, the rest of the contributors, (transportation, electricity, and industries) have much more shocking percentages. Both transportation and electricity emit 28% of pollution each, while industries come in a close second at 22%. The U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center states that if everyone in the U.S. went vegan, it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.6% since there would then be more investments in shipping, processing, and growing foods.

Veganism does contribute to helping the world but doesn’t impact climate change significantly. Vegan diets can help preserve drinking water. It takes 100 to 200 times more water to raise a pound of beef than a pound of vegetables, although the pound of beef has more calories. Veganism is also helping people become healthier by eliminating many foods that cause obesity and general health issues, such as cardiac arrest or strokes.

To make a bigger change in the world, a better opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be to help boycott large companies or stop buying certain everyday objects that contribute exponentially more to climate change than veganism. Veganism isn’t something that should be frowned upon in society, but it’s definitely not a solution or, even a theoretical fix, to climate change.