October 24th, this friday, is National Food Day. According to Foodday.org, “This annual event involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment, farm animals, and the people who grow, harvest, and serve it.” It is a day to bring awareness to what we eat, where our food comes from, and push for better policies that protect our farm workers, animals, and planet.
Food Day does not, however, incorporate veganism. Whereas I support Food Day and think it is a great initiative that can certainly get more people thinking about the impact the food they eat has, the lack of mention of veganism or vegetarianism seems to be quite the flaw. The organization does make a few shout-outs to a plant-based diet on their website, where they write “a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment” and “With America’s resources, there’s no excuse for…inhumane conditions for farm animals.” Promoting a plant-based diet, however, is not the objective of Food Day. But if their goal is really to change the American food system so that we have healthy food that is produced at a low cost and does not damage the environment or harm living beings, isn’t veganism the obvious solution?
I don’t want to throw non-vegans, vegan skeptics, or people who do not adhere to plant-based diets under the bus, but it seems as though veganism is a solution to so many problems and it is being ignored.
Just to recap, being vegan has the following effects:
- It reduces your carbon footprint
- According to Shrink That Footprint, “An Average American’s diet has a footprint of around 2.5 t CO2e per person each year. For the Vegan it is 1.5 t CO2e.”
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Globally, [livestock] contributes 18 percent…of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
- It provides for the well-being of millions of farm animals.
- The abuse and torture that livestock, such as cows, chicken, and pigs, endure is unimaginable and horrific. Whereas becoming a vegetarian does not prevent the torturing of all animals, veganism does.
- Land that is used to grow grain for feedlots (and there’s a lot of it!) can instead be used to grow crops to combat starvation in poor areas.
- Growing plants to feed ourselves is not nearly as destructive as “growing” meat.
- Here is a really great (but long) article that explains this all in detail: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/549
- It makes you healthier
- By avoiding the consumption of meat and dairy, you are avoiding many illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
- It conserves water
- It takes 200x the amount of water to produce a pound of meat than it does a pound of plant foods.
On the subject of water, I was happily surprised to be sent these various pictures from my family members living in California:
Although I’ve always felt like an east-coaster at heart, I’m proud to have Californian blood as I see them tapping into the benefits of veganism to solve the water crisis in the west.
So, join in with the Food Day festivities this Friday, but go a step further. Spread awareness about veganism and how more than anything, it can save our planet.