The cloud of doom filling people with gray terror as it hovers above us. Raging fire feasts on trees and clears our innocent ecosystems. The unnatural iridescence of oil spills suffocates our marine life. Here is the truth… in 30 years, our home, our planet Earth, will not be able to sustain life. Progressing to green energy will take too much time; time we don’t have. Eating sustainably may be the swiftest answer. People should transition to a plant-based diet to solve ecological issues and develop a sustainable lifestyle.
The agricultural industry is a massive contributor to the human footprint. In fact, about half of all crops grown in the USA go towards feeding livestock. First, precious land is used to grow grains. These grains are transported using fossil fuel petroleum. They are fed to livestock, who are butchered and packaged in plastic in a coal-fuelled factory. Lastly, they are refrigerated using natural gas. The land to table process consumes a higher amount of resources and energy than it provides. Why is so much energy and land used to make a portion of food? This is neither productive nor sustainable. If people in the US only consumed grains animals eat; it would feed 800 million people! (Cornell Chronicle). A plant-based diet feeds more people, with a reduced resource dependency. Vegetarian diets consume fewer resources, which is why they are important for a sustainable lifestyle.
Freshwater, another limited resource, is depleted in the meat producing process. Only a small percentage of the Earth’s water is drinkable; thus, making the supply finite. The exponential growth of water usage has shrunk that supply. PETA, a reputable NGO with millions of followers, found that “it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of meat, and only 25 gallons of water are required to grow 1 pound of wheat.” Water scarcity is a prevalent issue, so much so that, an industry that lethally mines groundwater exists. Why is so much valuable water given to livestock? The demand for meat means more freshwater, which we simply won’t have. Less water supply is a rising ecological problem, and eating a plant-based diet would be effective to solve it.
A number of people argue that eating meat is what they’re reused to. That is true. Meat is embedded in our traditions, cultures, and diets. Eating turkey on Thanksgiving is synonymous with celebrating history for some people. Although, is it not our ethical responsibility to care about the conditions we leave our planet in? I have not been vegetarian my whole life; in fact, I understand just how challenging this can be. Three-hundred-years ago, overpopulation was not an issue. Resource consumption was almost infinite. Ecological concerns did not exist on this scale. The consequences of global warming loom above us and our goal needs to be towards establishing a sustainable society. Everyone becoming vegetarian may not be reasonable; yet, making conscious decisions to eat sustainably is required.
Honestly, there is no way the entire 8 billion population will become vegan. The thirst for meat will always exist; however, it is essential to understand that alternatives exist. Beyond Meat is a famous meat-alternative brand with 58,000 stores around the world. My dad loves meat. When I took him to eat the Beyond Meat ‘Impossible Burger’ he freaked out. Eating that made him realize “you can preserve the loved taste of meat while being sustainable” (Krishna). Many factors define a sustainable lifestyle. A plant-based diet is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and water consumption, but it can’t be the only measure you do. Recycling food waste, adopting solar energy, and banning plastic are other steps to take towards solving ecological issues. To be considered an advocate for a better planet, you need to take certain measures. People have different biases and choose to tackle issues differently. What matters most is adapting a sustainable lifestyle in whichever way. Eating sustainably is a fantastic way to live a sustainable lifestyle; however, it is not the only way to solve ecological issues.
Amora Krishna is a 15-year-old writer residing in Singapore. She loves advocating for environmental justice and is involved with local and school sustainability clubs. Her aim is to create social change through her writing. Her favorite styles are open letters and editorials. Additionally, she loves performing (dance, drama, music) and dressing up her puppy “Sunshine”.