I want to save the world.
However, I lack any substantial knowledge of Earth-saving so I’m having trouble thinking of a way to do so. In the meantime, I’m going vegan.
This semester, I’ll be taking my vegetarian lifestyle one step further by cutting out dairy and eggs. I’m taking a leap toward becoming a healthier person and reducing my carbon footprint. It’s a new vegan-ing for me, if you will.
A year and a half ago, I decided to cut meat out of my diet and label myself a vegetarian and I’ve stuck with the lifestyle since. The main factor in the decision was not only the inhumane treatment of animals in the meat industry, but the negative impact the industry has on the environment.
“The global food system … is responsible for up to one-third of all human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions,” according to a study from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
While agriculture doesn’t just include meat, dairy and eggs, it still makes up a substantial portion. Milk, eggs and various types of meat require significantly more resources than plant-based foods.
Beef requires 48 times as many liters of water as vegetables per kilogram produced, Rachel Premack of The Washington Post wrote. In other words, a kilogram of beef takes over 15,000 liters of water (or a pound of beef takes around 4,000 gallons of water, for those of us using the U.S. imperial system).
Notedly, the same article pointed out the growth process of nuts requires nearly nine times more water than necessary for the production of milk and nearly three times the amount for eggs. In fact, according to the same chart in the article, more water is required to grow one kilogram of nuts than to produce one kilogram of chicken, butter, pork or goat meat. The only thing listed that requires more resources than nuts was beef.
I don’t eat a ton of nuts — sometimes almonds — so I’m not concerned about that. I get most of my protein from beans and, of course, vegetables.
These facts, in addition to many pro-veganism documentaries online, are what pushed me toward a plant-based diet. This transition will be a slow one, as I have plenty of dairy products in my fridge I have no intention of just throwing away. Not to mention, I have a very close relationship with cheese, and I’m just not sure I’m ready to break up with it yet.
I’ve done some investigating in my pantry to see what contains eggs and milk, and therefore I cannot repurchase. The good news: Oreos are technically vegan — unless you care about cross-contact with milk, which I don’t — and Ben and Jerry’s has plenty of delicious, dairy-free ice cream flavors. The bad news: My favorite Target-brand granola bars have milk in them, and vegan cheese is expensive.
However, granola bars and shredded cheese are a small price to pay for saving the world.
In the coming weeks, I hope to find flavorful recipes, enlighten my roommates about the joys of sometimes going meatless and find cruelty-free substitutes for my current makeup favorites.