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Why Veganism Is More Healthy For You (And The Planet!)

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

Recently, the sight of the Amazon rainforest on fire has captivated the concern of people around the world. Watching the huge swath of greenery, which provides a habitat to 10 percent of the nearly 9 million different species on earth, literally go up in smoke has struck fear into the hearts of many. Insofar as there is every indication that the forest fires can ultimately be blamed on the longstanding practice by farmers of burning to clear land for cultivation, the recent fires have raised the profile of and stirred up debate about the relationship between agriculture and deforestation. If we hold that what farmers choose to grow is largely the result of consumer demand, then eating itself becomes not just a personal choice which impacts one’s own health but also a political act - one that can lead to burning the amazon and similar destructive acts on the one hand or preserving the environment on the other.

Farmers Clear Forest Land to Grow Cash Crops and Feed Domesticated Animals

One of the primary reasons farmers deliberately burn the land to clear it for planting is the amount of money that can be made from crops like soybeans. Unfortunately, crops like soybeans are very hard on the land; after a few years farmland is so depleted that farmer must clear cut more land to be used to grow their valuable cash crop. The economic drive behind such a strategy is the direct result of a demand for soybeans as feed for livestock, a demand which is maintained because of the demand for animal products that results from individual choices to purchase meat and other animal products. Beef and other cow products in particular are exported by Brazil in large quantities.

Animal Products: More Resource-Intensive Than Vegetarian Options

Animal products in general, and beef in particular, are an incredibly resource-intensive dietary choice, and they are also not always the most healthy. Obviously, everyone needs protein to live a healthy life, but raising soybeans to feed to cattle and produce a serving of beef, for example, takes up to five times as much land and fresh water as it would to grow a similar amount of soybean protein for direct human consumption. If that isn’t reason enough to switch from animal product consumption to a relatively, one should note that animal products like beef are often high in unhealthy fats and cholesterols. On the other hand, plant sources of protein can help you lose weight when included in a balanced diet including other low fat fruits and vegetables.

Switching to a vegan diet then can not only improve one’s own health, but also that of the planet. If you choose to consume animal products and want to do so in the most sustainable way possible, it is best to avoid animals fed grains and soybeans deliberately grown as animal feed. Instead, look out for animals which were raised grazing on grasslands. Land that's naturally suitable for livestock grazing won’t result in rainforests being burnt and raising animals by grazing is far more sustainable than feeding them the produce of a monoculture that depletes the soil it is grown on in a few short years.

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