One of the points discussed when talking about veganism is the environmental impact that a vegan diet can have. Let’s be clear right from the start and acknowledge that most people in the world have a meat based diet does affect the environment in a negative way. The cows that people get their beef from release methane into the atmosphere which contributes a great deal to climate change. There is also the problem of over-fishing which in turn affects not only the species going into the nets, but others that need them to survive. So a meat based diet for most of the world does have a negative impact on the environment, but would a vegan diet really change the outcome?
The Real Problem
The meat based diet for 7 billion people is bad, but the impact on the environment is not that those people eat meat, but rather that it is 7 billion of them. The reason the meat diet is a problem is the planet's overpopulation and not the meat diet itself. The methane being released into the atmosphere would not be nearly as much if it weren’t because there are billions of people to feed and the same is true of over-fishing. That means that the damage being caused by the diet on the environment is not directly related to the diet, but rather on the world’s population's growth at an alarming rate.
Wouldn’t It Make A Difference?
The difference that a change in people’s diets would cause is another point that experts debate. In the short run there would be a difference in that the amount of damage to the environment would be reduced, but it would only be like band-aid on an amputated limb. To expect that a plant-based diet would save the environment is simply unrealistic; in fact a mass change to such a diet would create a new set of problems like the need for more land to grow produce and thus displacing animals from their habitats. It would also cause the over-population of some species and in smaller areas which depend on these species, it could mean the extinction of others.
The important thing about the environment is that a balance is needed in order for species to thrive, but if you alter that balance one way or the other (because of over-population it is being negatively altered) then you can damage it instead of helping it.If most of the world went vegan tomorrow it would patch the problem, not solve it. In the end veganism by a larger percentage of the population would only delay the inevitable, not stop it.
So What Is There To Do?
The one thing that could help the environment is if people addressed the problem of over-population. Unfortunately the problem is a bit taboo, as no one likes to say that people should have fewer children. There are 1.27 billion people in India and 1.35 billion people in China already and the numbers are still growing. The numbers in Latin America are also expected to explode and the same is happening in North America though at a slower pace. That is why the problem of overpopulation needs to be talked about if we ever want to solve environmental issues.
There is only so much space in the world and humanity is already displacing flora and fauna, because the growing numbers of people need a place to live and grow food. The one way to truly help the environment is to encourage family planning and birth control use, but there are social problems that stand in the way. In some countries bringing up such subjects is taboo due to cultural and religious lifestyles.
So Should We Say No To Veganism?
No one should take this article as a reason to say no to veganism. If you understand the importance of nutrients and where to get them, then you can have a positive impact on your health. On that point it is also important to note that simply going vegan does not guarantee better health nor does it guarantee that you will lose weight; that is why understanding nutrition is important to your health. If you do not want to eat animals, then that is another perfectly legitimate reason to go vegan, though animals are killed for a vegan diet, they just do not end up in your plate.
The important thing is that no one should over-estimate the impact of a vegan diet on the environment. If nothing else were to change, then a vegan diet would not really do much to save the environment even if most of the world decided to join in. To solve a problem you have to look at its root so that you can solve it and the world’s diet is simply not the problem. If you want to solve environmental issues then you need to be realistic about the proposed solutions.