What our grandparents’ generations may have dubbed as a “fad” has proved it’s here to stay, and, from the looks of it, Earth will be pretty stoked about it. What “trend” are we referring to? Going plant-based, of course.
In the past 15 years, the number of Americans who identify as vegan has increased by more than 3,000%. That’s a lot of people saying buh-bye to the carnivore’s way of life. And if you’re thinking, so what?, hold your horses (or your cows in this case), because the collective diet shift is on track to dramatically and positively impact the environment. And I’ll put my money where my mouth is — literally.
According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Eating, a global shift to plant-based diets could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70% respectively, by 2050. This same report looked at future projections and found that switching to a plant-based diet was associated with the greatest reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. But why is that?
Well, for one, mass meat consumption wreaks havoc on everyone’s health – humans, animals, and earth – because of factory farming; the culprit behind toxic runoff, foodborne illnesses, antibiotic abuse, and pollution. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons Mama Earth needs to take a sick day (or year). And if she’s not immune, we certainly aren’t either. Many factory farms are located in rural areas to accommodate the massive amount of livestock, and according to the ASPCA®, studies show that factory farming’s health and environmental impacts are disproportionately felt by poorer communities and people of color. All the more reason we need to rethink our food production process. And unfortunately, this runoff river of bad news doesn’t stop there.
In 2017, the Center for Disease Control stated that 884 million people worldwide don’t have access to clean drinking water, and animal agriculture accounts for more than one-third of drinking water available. Mooo-ve over, guys. When comparing a traditional Mediterranean diet with animal-based products, pesco-vegetarian diets, and vegetarian diets, one study found that vegetarian diets had the lowest water footprint — with a reduction of 30-53%. Not surprisingly, vegan diets use the least amount of water, reducing water consumption by 50%. As the lack of clean drinking water continues to ail human rights, plant-based diets offer a global solution.
And then, there’s the treatment of animals. Vegan or not, I think all good-hearted humans can agree that animals deserve to be treated with respect, and that includes the ones that make regular appearances on plates. Thanks to Ag-Gag Laws, which prevent people from photographing, filming, or even investigating factory farms without the owner’s consent, factory farms have gotten away with concealing their animal abuse atmospheres under the mask of “protecting trade secrets.” Though, it is most certainly not a secret that factory farms are a breeding ground for disease and pathogens, and contribute to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This all comes back to the treatment of animals. This cesspool-like circumstance is largely due to the inhumane conditions and tightly confined living spaces for animals. Yet again revealing the issues currently at hand with our food production. Oy vey.
The good news is, conscious consumers can show there is also no room in the market for the mistreatment of animals (or global destruction) by using the power of their hard-earned cash, as so many who are going gaga for greens are already demonstrating. By implementing more plant-based foods into one’s diet or only shopping from companies that have animal welfare as one of their top priorities, consumers hit mass-meat producers where it hurts: their revenue stream. In fact, mass-meat businesses are already feeling the heat (makes sense considering they’re contributing to global warming), and companies like Tyson have recently acquired plant-based companies to meet the rising demand. Just look at all of the plant-based options making their debut in traditionally all-meat fast-food chains like Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and more. This “fad” is picking up steam, grandpa, and it’s time to dub the plant-based lifestyle as a revolution.
If you’re looking to make the switch or even dip your toes in these crystal clear waters, check out Consciously’s new plant-based cause, which contains products recognized as plant-based from the ASPCA®’s Shop With Your Heart program.
Is a primarily plant-based world our future? Only time and the power of your dollar will tell.