There are numerous benefits to living a plant-based lifestyle, not only for yourself, but for the world.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics believes that eating a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of numerous chronic degenerative diseases and conditions including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity. Over the course of 12 studies, it was found that those on a plant-based diet lost significantly more weight (4.5 pounds), than those assigned to non-vegetarian diets over the course of 18 weeks.
Higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have been strongly associated with a reduction in cognitive decline. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies show evidence that you can lower your risk of developing cognitive impairment or dementia by as much as 20 percent simply by incorporating more fruits and vegetables in your diet. It has also been shown that plant compounds and antioxidants can reverse cognitive deficits and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Plant-based diets have been shown to lower the risk of diabetes, while keeping blood sugar under control. According to the National Institutes of Health, one study revealed plant-based diets were associated with an almost 50 percent reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes versus those on a non-vegetarian diet. In another study of more than 200,000 people, those living a healthy plant based lifestyle lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 34 percent versus those who followed an unhealthy, non-plant based lifestyle.
The American Cancer Society recommends a diet rich in plant-based foods. Plant-based diets are generally loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, high in fiber and low in saturated fat. Evidence suggests eating vegetables and fruits may lower the risk for some types of cancers
A Study from the National Institutes of Health has shown that vegetarian diets are associated with a significantly lower risk of gastrointestinal cancer, especially those who incorporated eggs and dairy as well. Another study found those following a vegetarian diet had a 22% lower risk of developing colon cancer versus non-vegetarians.
Did you know, according to PETA, you can save almost 200 animals per year by going vegan? Choosing to live a plant-based lifestyle provides the obvious benefit of sparing animals lives, but also spares them from a torturous existence.
According to an analysis by the Sentience Institute, 99% of animals used for food in the U.S. are living on factory farms. By species they estimate that 70.4% of cows, 98.3% of pigs, 99.8% of turkeys, 98.2% of chickens raised for eggs, and over 99.9% of chickens raised for meat are raised in factory farms. Billions of animals in the U.S. each year are factory farmed and killed for food or die from the horrific conditions.
Many people will eliminate meat, but continue to eat fish. Billions of fish are farmed as well in these brutal factory farm conditions. The process of wild caught fish and shellfish also cause “non-target” animals to be killed and injured such as sea turtles, sharks, seals, birds and whales. These animals are commonly caught up in commercial fishing nets or killed by boats.
You can learn more about animals used for food by visiting PETA.org
Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water to be consumed, while also causing a tremendous amount of greenhouse gases to be released.
Globally, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s transportation systems combined. Take a minute to think about that.
Animal Agriculture which includes raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United Nations, a global shift toward a plant based diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change. According to the BBC, 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepared a document stating that if land would be used more effectively, it could store more carbon emitted by humans.
It takes a mind boggling amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat, hydrate animals, and clean farms. It takes 683 gallons of water to produce a single gallon of milk. Just one milk-producing cow can drink up to 100 gallons of water a day depending on the weather. Worse than that, to produce 1 pound of beef, more than 2,4000 gallons of water is needed. However, to produce 1 pound of tofu only requires 244 gallons of water. By switching to a plant-based lifestyle, one person can save more than 200,000 gallons of water a year.
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, every year 500 million tons of manure is produced at factory farms across the United States. With a lack of animal sewage processing plants, runoff from farms pollutes our rivers and lakes. Bacteria and viruses from the runoff can contaminate ground water as well.
Most farms store waste in lagoons or they spray it over fields. When sprayed people who live near by suffer the consequences. The California State Senate states in a report that “studies have shown that [animal waste] lagoons emit toxic airborne chemicals that can cause inflammatory, immune, irritation and neurochemical problems in humans.”
Runoff from factory farms and livestock grazing is one of the leading causes of pollution in our rivers and lakes. The EPA notes that bacteria and viruses can be carried by the runoff and that groundwater can be contaminated.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in the U.S.A says “Livestock production impacts air and water quality, ocean health, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on regional to global scales and it is the largest use of land globally.” It takes almost 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant-based diet than it does to feed someone who regularly consumes meat.
Astoundingly 41 percent of land in the contiguous United States is used to just feed livestock, according to a report by Bloomberg. There is a vastly unequal distribution of land used between livestock versus crops for human consumption. Combining pastures used for grazing, and land used to grow animal feed, livestock makes up 77% of farming land globally. What is more striking, only 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein come from that land use.
Livestock farming is a major factor in deforestation of the Amazon. According to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, cattle ranching accounts for 80% of current deforestation rates in the Amazon. One -quarter of the global market of beef is supplied by the Amazon in Brazil, making it the largest exporter with approximately 200 million cattle living there.
By switching to a plant-based diet you can help save the Oceans. Almost two-thirds of the world is covered by the ocean. Due to extreme commercial fishing, ecosystems have been destroyed, coral reefs are dying and once robust animal populations are dwindling. Fishing methods like longlines and drift nets are killing billions of unintentional “bycatch” each year. This “bycatch” includes animals like sea turtles, sharks, marine mammals and sea birds. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the estimated amount of discarded bycatch is 17 million to 39 million tons each year.
By eating mostly plants you can also help prevent the damage coastal fish farms cause to our oceans. Fish farms release feces, antibiotics, parasites, and non-native fish into sensitive marine ecosystems, often causing algae blooms that cannot support sea life.