Consuming fewer animal products in your diet can have many benefits, for the environment, your health, and of course for animal welfare. These are just a few of the benefits of compassionate eating.
The environmental impacts of industrial-scale agriculture are huge. The statistics from the U.S. are telling. We can take just one aspect of this, such as water consumption, to see the positive outcomes that consuming fewer animal products can have.
Benefits of conserving water
Fifty-six percent of all water consumed in America is used to grow the crops that feed the livestock. In a time when our world seems to be getting hotter and drier, this is very worrying and something that touches a nerve with Australians, in particular. Being no strangers to droughts that can sometimes last for decades, we know how essential water is.
Continuing on the subject of water consumption, again in the U.S., it takes approximately 1914 gallons (8,700 liters) of water to produce 1 pound (.5 kilos) of beef. This water includes water used to grow the grain, water for the cattle, and the processing of the meat afterward. Other impacts of industrial animal agriculture include land usage.
Livestock covers 45 percent of the planet’s total landmass — one cow requires between 2 and 5 acres of land. It is considered the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. There are many other negative outcomes on the environment as a result of industrial-scale animal agriculture — we have only touched on a couple here.
The health benefits from eating fewer animal products are also significant. There are two main kinds of fats found in our diet — saturated and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are predominantly found in plant-based products and have positive effects on your health, such as improving blood cholesterol levels, easing inflammation, and stabilizing your heart rhythms.
Potential health benefits
Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can help to lower bad cholesterol levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease. This can also help prevent insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes. While some plant-based foods such as nuts contain saturated fats and vice versa, some animal products such as fish contain unsaturated fats. Consuming fewer animal products will still make a significant difference to your overall health outcome.
Consider the welfare of animals
Something else to consider is the cruelty of what happens when animals are processed for meat or used to produce dairy products. Reducing your consumption of animal products will help to lessen the suffering of these innocent animals. Another statistic to consider is that eating no animal products for one day will save roughly 835.9 gallons (3,800 liters) of water, 198 pounds (90 kilos) of grain, 0.005 acres (10 square meters) of forested land, 11 pounds (5 kilos) of CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
Eating fewer animal products is the single biggest impact on the well-being of the planet you can have as an individual — it is the biggest difference you can make every day to improve outcomes for so many people and to stop so much suffering. You are obviously someone who wants to live a compassionate life, so this is one simple change you might consider.