Animal Protein and Environmental Sustainability

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Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the best things we can do to lessen our environmental impact on the planet. However, many are hesitant to do so because they are worried about getting enough of their nutritional needs. There’s no need to worry because you can get all your daily dietary needs with plant foods—even protein and creatine. 

Creatine is a substance naturally found in our body, specifically the muscle cells. Other sources include fish, eggs, and meat.

So what does this mean for us? It means we tend to get lower levels of creatine than our omnivore friends, but that’s not something to worry about as the body produces enough to support our energy and brain functions.

But no one is stopping you from taking vegan creatine supplements, especially if you are an athlete or lead an active lifestyle.

Is an animal-based diet sustainable?

 

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Aside from causing immense animal suffering, the livestock sector also requires large amounts of food, land, energy, and water. And with the steady increase of the world population, these are the same resources we need the most to keep everyone fed. But because most food and water are used to raise animals, many people worldwide are left hungry.

Research shows that global farmland use could be reduced by over 75 percent—an area equivalent to China, the US, Australia, and European Union—without meat and dairy consumption and still be able to feed the world.

Animal agriculture is also one of the leading causes of climate change. Did you know that farming livestock contributes to more greenhouse gas emissions than most other food sources? Such emissions are caused by animal waste and land use, feed production, and enteric fermentation.

Our reliance on the agriculture of ruminant animals is one of the factors causing increases in methane emissions. In fact, enteric methane emissions for livestock animals account for as much as 30 percent of anthropogenic methane emissions worldwide.

So, the more people who move to a plant-based diet, the better for our environment. It can also help alleviate world hunger.

Why is a plant-based diet more sustainable?

Plant foods are known for making us healthier by lowering our risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. But that’s not the only thing they’re good for. Research shows that by filling our plate with various vegetables and fruits instead of animal foods, we can help save the planet.

A study published in the journal Nature found out that the steady growth in population and consumption of red meat and processed foods can increase the environmental pressures of the food system by as much as 90 percent by the year 2050. This exceeds the planetary boundaries that define safe operating space, causing the Earth’s ecosystem to become unstable. As a result, dangerous levels of climate change may occur, affecting forest ecosystems and biodiversity.

Moving to a more plant-based diet can help decrease the greenhouse gas emissions of the food industry by over 50 percent. So by going vegan, you can also reduce your other environmental impacts.

Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, are the most sustainable source of protein on Earth. Growing them doesn’t require a lot of water. They can withstand harsh, dry climates and are often grown in developing nations, which helps provide food security.

They also act as natural fertilizers by capturing the nitrogen in the air and incorporating it into the soil—removing the need for chemical-based, synthetic fertilizers. For these very reasons, these protein sources are precisely what we need to rely on.

Aside from vegan protein powders, you can also supplement with vegan creatine if you work out a lot or want to build muscle mass.

How can we go about starting a vegan diet?

When going vegan, make sure to add a wide variety of healthy plant foods in your meals, such as seeds (hemp, flax, and chia), nuts and nut butters, legumes, calcium-fortified plant-based milk, whole grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed protein sources, such as tofu and tempeh. You may also take vegan creatine supplements if you think you need it. However, do watch out for creatine supplements that come in capsules as they are often made from gelatin.

But being vegan is more than just about the food we eat. It’s a commitment to shunning all types of industries that make use of animal parts, including your clothes and accessories. So instead of animal-based leather, consider buying synthetic leather.

For example, why not consider more sustainable everyday items like toothbrushes made from bamboo instead of plastic, or a vegan card holder made from synthetic leather? The possibilities are endless, as the vegan business industry is endlessly growing!

If you want to read more about the ways a vegan diet can save the environment, your health, and of course the animals, visit the MEMANMEVEGAN homepage and check out the different sections on these topics.