How to Save 1,000 Gallons of Water a Day

Did you know that you can save 1,000 gallons of water a day by simply switching your diet?

There is a rising trend happening right now in the plant based world. From 2009 to 2015, nearly 16 million people switched to going vegan. But what does that actually mean?

It means that a growing number of people are abandoning the consumption and use of any animal products in their life. Thanks to new research on food production  it has become increasingly transparent on how we get our food to the table.

For most, that is all we needed to make the change.

If you are already plant based, congrats! If you are on the fence, here are 3 reasons to why you should give it a try.

1. Health Benefits

There are several health benefits of a vegan diet.

Researchers from a 2014 Pubmed study concluded that vegan diets added protection against obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular mortality.

And how did they come to that?

They compiled existing research and cross referenced relevant data with 96,000 participants with the aim of being able to assess the health and disease outcomes of vegetarian diets with regards to chronic diseases.

Here is what they determined:

  • Vegan diet had 75% risk reduction for hypertension
  • 47-78% risk reduction of diabetes
  • 55% risk reduction for ischemic heart disease
  • 42% risk reduction in CVD mortality
  • Vegans have 14% lower risk of all-cause mortality in males

 

The caveat…

The same researchers also say that vegans experienced a 73% higher risk for urinary tract cancer compared to non-vegetarians. Also, vegans may have a greater challenge in meeting their nutritional adequacy for vitamin B12, protein and calcium compared to non-vegetarians

Yet, with appropriate food choices, vegans can avoid nutritional inadequacy.

The biggest problem I see with a person switching to a complete vegan diet, is not eating enough proper food. Not eating enough calories will make you feel tired, sluggish and think it is from a lack of meat. In upcoming posts, I will outline how to avoid this and what it takes to sustain a vegan lifestyle.

2. Environmental Reasons

There is an overconsumption of animal products happening right now. Supplying animal products for over 7 billion humans just isn’t sustainable. Agriculture is responsible for more than 30% of global greenhouse gas(GHG) emission. The livestock sector alone accounts for 18% of GHG and 80% total land use.

This means, out of 330 million acres of agricultural land in the US, 260 million are used to produce feed for livestock.

This leads to deforestation, biodiversity loss, and land degradation.

Worst of all, many people go hungry because of this.

Use of valuable resources

1 in 8 people go to bed hungry every night. That is 805 million people.

A team  at the University of Minnesota published in the journal Environmental Research Letters concluded that in the US two thirds of calories produced per acre of land are consumed by animals, rather than people. The authors of the study state that “the US agricultural system alone could feed 1 billion extra people by shifting crop calories to direct human consumption”.

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Right now, an acre of land can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes or 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, but only 250 pounds of beef.

So let’s break that down…

Say you find yourself at a pool party this summer, the grill is out and someone serves you a burger. What all went into producing that burger?

That one 1 burger, which we will say weighs about ⅓ -pound requires 660 gallons of water, 13 pounds of feed, and roughly 65 sq ft of land.

1 full pound requires 1,799 gallons of water.

What!?

More than you expected right? Now multiply that with every person at the party, and all the people all over the world eating 1 burger.

It’s a lot…

What if I eat grass-fed burgers?

It sounds better right? It’s been a growing trend and it is how it used to be. But with resources, it actually requires more. A grain fed cow only needs about 3 acres, while a grass fed cow needs 9 acres and needs 35% more water.

Regardless of grain fed or grass fed, both need a lot of resources that should be allocated elsewhere.

Pollution

Then there’s manure. Tremendous, tremendous amounts of manure. In 2012, it was reported that factory farms produced 369 millions tons of manure! That is a lot of shi*t!

Most of it ends up as fertilizer. But the problem with the large amounts  of manure, is that it exceeds the soil’s ability to incorporate it. That means everything that is not absorbed by the soil makes its way into the local environment where they pollute the air and water.

Keeping up with our 1 burger example, that equals to 0.126 pounds of methane in our air.

What is methane?

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent as CO2, and is even better at trapping heat in the environment.

One of the biggest sources of of methane in the world comes from agriculture, especially cows.

How does it pollute the water?

By runoff. Runoff is the draining away of water and the substances in it.

Animals confined to small spaces or animal feed operations create concentrated areas of urine and feces. The runoff, that carry contaminants from these sources can make its way to lakes and rivers.

Animal waste has the ability to pass over 40 diseases to humans, and that waste ends up exactly where we don’t want it: Into our fresh water and into the hopeful hands of our water treatment professionals.

3. Ethical Reasons

Compassion was my driving force to switching to a plant based diet, with environmental and health reasons supporting the change.

The great Sir Paul McCartney once said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” I couldn’t agree more.

This is how it has always been

The main debate I come across most is, this is how it’s always been. Since the beginning of time humans have been on top of the food chain.

So what was it like then?

2.6 million years ago, early humans called Australopithecus, were mainly herbivores. It was easy for them to eat fruits and vegetables, mainly because of the fact they didn’t run away from them.

However, fruits and vegetables were not calorie dense. Meaning, you have to eat a significant amount to feel satisfied. Even though they also had access to root foods like beets, yams and potatoes, they were not tasty raw, and were difficult to chew.

Even when meat consumption entered, it was raw. Cooking didn’t really exist until 500,000 years ago. So they processed the meat by pounding, flaking and slicing. This made it much easier to chew, which required less energy for  intake.

Meat is calorie dense. Meaning smaller amounts have more calories, and for the early human, this supplied their body with the energy and nutrients they needed.

This was important for survival.

Fast forward to modern day where meat is consumed multiple times a day, every single day. Far from what it used to be. Not necessarily for survival, but more for enjoyment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that the average American consumes approximately 82 grams of meat a day — about 30 percent higher than the total daily recommended value of protein.

We have access to several different types of foods which allow us to still get everything we need. So the need for factory farms that slaughter over 1 million animals a day so someone can get a bacon cheeseburger at any hour of the day they want, is not truly justifiable.

The main point of this section is to open up empathy. Picture yourself in their situation. They feel pain, just like us. They have emotions, just like us. So if there is another way for humans to survive, why do we subject animals to modern day slavery, torture and execution?

Because it tastes good…

When I ask people what they like about meat, that is the answer I usually get. Because to their tastebuds, it signals delight and pleasure. And to be honest, I agree. Meat does taste good.

But that does justify the cost it entails?

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Plants feel pain too…

There is a lot of debate here.

For one side of this debate, I will reference an interview with biologist Daniel Chamovitz, Dean of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

He said that plants do not have pain receptors however instead they have pressure receptors that allow them to know when they’re being touched or moved.

In short, you can kill a plant and it won’t care according to him.

On the other side, according to researchers at the Institute for Applied Physics at the University of Bonn in Germany, plants release gases that are the equivalent of crying out in pain.

By using a laser-powered microphone, these researchers picked up sound waves produced by plants releasing gases when cut or injured. Although not audible to the human ear, the secret voices of plants have revealed that cucumbers scream when they are sick, and flowers whine when their leaves are cut.

Some claim, since plants do not have a brain, they do not know how to register what is happening.

My personal opinion…

Plants are conscious. They may feel pain, even without the existence of pain receptors.

I believe there needs to be more research done before having a definitive answer.

But what is known however, that when compared to the environmental needs required for plant production, and the health benefits they produce, they far outweigh any type of animal farming.

Conclusion

So how does me going vegan help?

Everyday, a vegan saves

  • 1,100 gallons of water
  • 45 pounds of grain
  • 30 sq ft of forested land
  • 20 lbs of CO2 equivalent
  • 1 animal’s life

So yes, 1 person can make a difference.

A vegan lifestyle has plenty of upside. Not just to your health, but to the world and to your mind.

In upcoming posts, I will outline how to make a successful change to a full plant-based diet, free of animal products.

Of course there will always be someone to debate against this. Someone who may be more credible and more educated. I encourage you the reader to do your own research, and not just take my word for it.

There is information to learn from both sides. I encourage a healthy debate.

Leave a comment below about your thoughts.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073139/

http://www.businessinsider.com/one-hamburger-environment-resources-2015-2

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-gross-way-water-pollution-from-livestock-effects-you/

http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/plants-feel-pain.htm

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v531/n7595/full/nature16990.html

http://nouw.com/linebjorkenstam/lite-om-vegetarianism-veganism-20583682