The more I have learnt about living a vegan lifestyle the more it really doesn't make sense to go back to my old habits. It's unsettling to think about what I thought of as simple actions (eating animals), as being so monumentally destructive to animal's lives, my health and the environment I live in. That sounds dramatic but the truth is sadly worse than I could have ever imagined.
As with many other facts I have learnt along the way, water use and pollution caused by animal agriculture has shocked me to my core and completely confused me as to how this is allowed to happen. Not only is it allowed to happen, governments financially support the very industries using huge amounts of water and polluting waterways.
If you haven't see Cowspiracy, I highly recommend watching it (It's on Netflix). The makers of the film also have a cook book The Planet Based Diet, which you can read online for free or purchase a hard copy. (They cover the environmental impacts of animal agriculture and the cookbook goes in to more of the facts mentioned in the film.)
Did you know?
5% of water used in the U.S. is consumed by private homes
55% of water used in the U.S. is used to grow crops to feed live stock animals
(A stagering fact mentioned in The Planet Based Diet book)
Even if every household reduced their water consumption at home, it has little impact if people continue to consume meat and dairy.
A crazy reality
Currently alot of California is classified as being in drought:
California is no stranger to drought, and yet this state alone exports 100 Billion Gallons of water in the form of alfalfa per year to Asia to feed live stock! Surely that water could be used to grow plants to feed humans.
Scientists have predicted that more parts of the world will see droughts as we begin to feel the effects of climate change more and more. So reducing our water use where possible, surely seems like a logical step especially in areas prone to droughts. One major area we can focus on is food.
A Plant-Based Diet has a smaller water footprint:
You can see from the table above that far more water is used to produce a kilogram of meat than fruits or vegetables. And in the case of vegetables it takes less water to produce a gram of protein than the majority of animal products. So if you care about saving water and your protein intake, vegetables are definitely the way to go.
I've found various sources reporting the comparision of water use for producing meat versus plant based foods, and although the numbers sometimes varied, animal products are always reported as the most water intensive, and beef always uses the most water by far.
Why ditch eating animal products?
Meat consumption is assosicated with weight gain and health issues, it's incredibly cruel to kill senitent beings that want to live, and it causes water use far greater than growing vegetables (as well as other negative environmental impacts).
Support less water intensive food by eating a plant-based diet.