I know the prospect of going vegan is intimidating to most people and it’s easy for the majority of the American populace to make fun of vegans like they are a new wave of health-conscious hippies now having their moment of glory. Thank you Justin Timberlake for your fabulous SNL performance as a giant block of tofu who also happens to rap with a knack like no tofu has done before (CLICK HERE to watch it). You know veganism has hit it big if JT transforms himself into a people-sized block of tofu and raps about the benefits of meat-free meals as aforementioned block of tofu. However, the reality is that only 0.5% of Americans call themselves vegan (1 million people) and the majority of people you pass by on the street are likely to view vegans as scoff-worthy eccentrics.
I know I am just one little ant in a colony of over 7 billion people on planet earth (which continues to be bombarded with increasing numbers of people by the day), but I can’t help but feel that veganism should be respected rather than viewed as a fad that is having its heyday and will then die down like the majority of in-vogue diet regimens that have experienced their moment of glory and then fell to the wayside, like a popular fashion trend you knew was too hideous to stay trendy for more than a season or two (those atrocious 80’s hairstyles are what comes to mind for me!).
The reason why I feel veganism should be here to stay and taken more seriously than any other fleeting trend is because veganism is POWERFUL. It is powerful for the health of the planet and everything any human being with a conscience and a functioning prefrontal cortex should care about. Most people actually have no idea how effective veganism is at slowing the rate of climate change and saving the most vulnerable habitats on planet earth. Because I am just a little ant, I’m going to take it upon myself to get help from other ants who make it their jobs to dig into the dirt of how animal product consumption is related to climate change and contributes to other tragic environmental catastrophes.
Lists are awesome. I am a huge fan of a quality list and I think most blog readers like lists too. Hence, here is a list of facts that are food for thought:
1) According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization’s 2007 report, Livestock’s Long Shadow”, 90% of Amazon deforestation since the 1970’s is due to clearing land for pasture and for growing soybeans to be fed to livestock.
2) Black carbon, aka soot, is 680 times more heat trapping than carbon dioxide. Guess what? 60% of black carbon particles accumulating on the surface of ice sheets in Antarctica and helping to melt them like ice cream from a droopy ice cream cone come all the way from the Amazon rainforest. Wind currents take the soot there once it is produced from the burning of trees to clear lands for livestock production!
3) Deforestation releases as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in one day as would 8 million people flying from London to New York.
4) Every second of every minute of every hour, an area of tropical rainforest the size of a football field is being destroyed.
5) 80% of the planet’s rainforest has already been destroyed. In West Africa, which has long boasted lush green tropical forests, over 90% of forest cover has been lost over the last century.
6) The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change compiled statistics indicating that agriculture is the most important cause of deforestation on the planet.
7) 60-70% of deforestation in the Amazon has been attributed to cattle ranches with the other 30-40% due to small-scale subsistence agriculture.
Source: Buzzle- Deforestation Statistics
Obviously, not eating animal products reduces animal suffering. No brainer. I haven’t discussed the extent of damage to the environment factory farming causes in this post, nor have I touched upon animal rights and the health effects of going vegan here in this littl’ blog post. Darn, I haven’t even touched upon junk food veganism. It exists folks. And it is common among those who call themselves vegan. So much to write about. So much!
Also, I have never been an all or nothing kinda girl and I’ve never been one to judge other people’s lifestyle choices. Simply reducing animal product consumption is a step in the right direction and makes a difference. What I believe in most is education and free will. I do believe it is vital that we educate ourselves and recognize that reducing animal product consumption has ENORMOUS benefits rarely spoken of in the media and not taught at all in schools. The agriculture industry is a HUGE force to be reckoned with here in the U.S. of A. and money has sway when it comes to what is talked about in the news and in schools. Thank goodness for the internet and freedom of speech!
Sayonara for now- clearly I have much more to write about in the future!
Feel free to share your comments and opinions in the comments section. I’d love to read about what you think!