How does going vegan help the Earth?

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By Miguel Velázquez, MWN

Being vegan brings many benefits to well-being, as well as to our planet. According to experts, plant-based diets have much lower carbon impacts, use less land and water, are less polluting and put less pressure on ecosystems. 

“Such lifestyles can make a profound difference to the way we think about the planet, too. A central reason for veganism is that other animals are not ours to use, confine or kill,” Matthew Cole, professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, at the The Open University, the UK, explained to Metro.

He added: “So, having some humility about what it means to be human can help us to refocus on being part of this world, and not somehow above it, dominating it, or controlling it.”

Experts believe that veganism is a social and political movement and not only an individual decision, as becoming vegan can be a fantastic, life-enhancing and transformative experience, but it’s not as easy as it could or should be for everyone. And that happens because we are so entangled with exploiting other animals and because of all the inequalities that exist in our societies.

Cole concluded: “We need to equip everyone with the knowledge and skills to care for ourselves, our families and our communities as vegans. We need to collectively work towards building vegan societies, as well as personally becoming vegan as part of that journey.”

To learn more, Metro chatted with Kate Stewart, lecturer in sociology at the department of social and political sciences at Nottingham Trent University, the UK.

Is it hard to become vegan?

Being vegan means not using any products derived from nonhuman animals, so although it’s usually the first thing people think about, food habits are not the only things that change when we become vegan. It can seem daunting to do this at first – because so many products contain animal products or by-products, often where we wouldn’t expect to see them. So there’s a lot of reading ingredients labels to start with. But food, in particular, is a social habit. We tend to stick to a fairly routine set of choices and dishes, so once we have made that adjustment it gets much easier, and exploring and experimenting with new dishes is wonderful.

Tell more about the impact of veganism on our planet and ecosystems.

The environmental benefits of veganism and the harms of animal agriculture are well documented. For me though, I think that because veganism is an ethical position, one of the often overlooked ways in which our ecosystems benefit is because is the shift in our attitudes that come along with the vegan position – we no longer see the planet and its ecosystems as simply resources for humans to use for human benefit. So although strictly speaking environmental responsibility isn’t necessary in order to live without animal products, it does go hand in hand with it.

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