Think about the Hamburger for a moment. It is one of the most famous and recognizable food options. This staple of the US diet takes 25kg of animal feed, 25 square meters of land, and 220l of water, all for four patties. Those are the statistics that help environmental activities push for the idea that eating less meat can have a big impact on the environment. Specifically, carbon and greenhouse gas emission.
Here are some numbers about vegetarianism in America, a study published by the Vegetarian Times.
– Only 3.2 percent of adults in US follow a vegetarian based diet
– Only 0.5% of those are vegans, which is approximately 1 million people
– 59% of vegans in America are female, and 42% are between the age of 18 and 34 years old
– However, 10% or 22.8 million people, say they follow a vegetarian-inclined diet
– In Europe, numbers are much better, with Germany leading the way, with 10% of the entire population being vegetarians
– In Belgium, Ghent is the first city in the world with a weekly veggie day
– In Finland, students in grade 1 to 12 have an option between a vegetarian and meat based meal four days a week, and between two vegetarian meals one day a week
What Would Happen if America Went Vegan?
Being that America is among the largest consumers of meat, let’s take a look how they can help. The Hamburger is a staple in the US diet. According to a study by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, if the nation went vegan, they can reduce greenhouse gas emission from agriculture by 28%. But it could potentially lead to deficiency in calcium and other vitamins.
Such a radical move is not something anyone would like. But the impact of converting all land used by the livestock industry to cropland for human food could reduce annual emission. They could drop from 623 million tons to 446 million tons a year.
The team also found that a plant-only system would not meet the requirements for calcium, vitamin A and B12.
What happens to your body when you go vegan?
The benefits of going vegan or vegetarian are definitely something to consider. Yes, you might have harder time to meet the needs for certain vitamins and minerals, but it is doable. Here are some changes that happen in the body when you go vegan.
The first thing people notice is an energy boost thanks to removal of processed meats. Try alternatives like fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They all boost vitamin, fiber, and mineral level, and produce energy.
After a few weeks, your bowel movement may shift toward a more regular and healthy pattern, or you might experience increase of bloating and loose stool. That is because of the increase of fiber in your diet. It will take your colon some time to adjust and get used to the new diet.
After several months of a vegan diet, people notice acne clears up, and their skin looks much more radiant and clear. A well-balanced vegan diet will help you reduce salt and processed foods. That reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
After one year, your vitamin B12 levels might still be low. But you can solve that issue by taking supplements. Your body will thrive on a plant-based diet. You can live without meat and processed food.
Going vegan can be an intimidating decision. But that is understandable. Research the benefits and how you can help the environment.