These guys live at Edgar’s Mission, and Shirley’s story was the catalyst to my becoming vegan. I wanted to sponsor him since he was the one that set me on the path.
Hamish is just super cute!
Anyway, it reminded me of when I first read Shirley’s story, so I thought I’d revisit the post I wrote at the time. What do you think? Was I on the right track?
I think going vegan was one of the best decisions I ever made.
In my pack from Edgar’s Mission, I got a booklet entitled Eating Up The World: the environmental consequences of human food choices. It’s produced by various vegetarian/vegan societies in Australia, so you could get a copy through any of them if you wanted one. It’s also available online at that link. I thought it might be biased considering the producers, but they cite all their sources. Anyway, the booklet really confirmed my decision for me, from an environmental standpoint. It clearly outlines how choosing not to eat animal products is pretty much the single greatest individual activity you can take to help reduce climate change. I think that’s pretty awesome.
Here are some of the main points (I didn’t know a bunch of these before I read the booklet!):
- It takes 50,000L to 100,000L of water to produce 1kg of beef, but only 2500L to produce 1kg of white rice and much less for most other grains, fruits and vegetables. (This totally makes me think of how I was often told to eat less rice during the drought, because it was such a water-intensive crop and not suited to the Australian climate – which it’s not – but no-one ever told me to eat less beef.)
- Over 67% of water in Australia is used for agriculture (as compared to 9% for household use), so we should concentrate our water saving efforts on what we eat/wear etc. About 90% of household water consumption comes from food consumption. People eating an omnivorous diet use approximately 3.5 times as much water for food than people eating plant-based diets. Are you seeing a connection here?
- Australia’s livestock will produce more warming over the next 20 years (via methane) than all our coal-fired power stations combined.
- 60% of Australia’s land is used for grazing.
- The UN identified ‘…animal agriculture and food consumption as one of the most significant drivers of environmental pressures and climate change, stating that “a substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products”…’
- 92% of land disturbance in Australia, which includes clearing forests and bushland, increased erosion, changes to the water table, acidifying and compacting soils, spreading weeds, unsustainable levels of manure and climate change, is caused by animal agriculture (55% beef, 36% sheep/wool, 1% dairy). The remaining 8% is all other industries. That’s EVERYTHING ELSE.
- 5kg of wild fish is needed to produce 1kg of farmed fish.
- Fish is one of the most contaminated foods on the planet.
- Some parts of the ocean have been so over-fished that they are now ‘dead zones’ covering tens of thousands of square kilometres.
- Australia now imports 30% of our oil (we used to drill our own, but it’s been dropping since 2000 – Australia has already reached peak oil). Animal agriculture uses considerably more energy than plant agriculture, considering transport of feed and livestock, operation of farm facilities including heating, cooling, lighting and slaughter facilities and the constant refrigeration required for storage of the animal products.
- 27,000 children under the age of 5 die of poverty and starvation every day around the world – and we grow 50% more edible grain worldwide than is required to feed every person on the globe. That extra food plus more is given to farm animals.
- The world’s cattle (so not including anything but cow type animals) eat enough food to feed more than the whole world’s population.