Help protect... water
The United Nations Water Assessment Programme states: “At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Earth, with its diverse and abundant life forms, including over six billion humans, is facing a serious water crisis.”17
This situation is predicted to worsen as our population expands and consumption per capita increases with more and more people adopting resource-intensive Western meateating habits.
How your diet can help
Although statistics vary, it is safe to say that it takes at least three times the amount of water to feed a meat eater compared with that used to feed a vegan.18
This is largely because arable land has to be irrigated to make it agriculturally viable and to increase and improve crop yields. As has been shown, much of this land is entirely wasted by growing feed crops for livestock rather than food for direct consumption by people. The water used on this land – as well as that consumed direct by livestock – represents yet another wasted resource.
Since a large percentage of the crops fed to European farmed animals are grown in developing countries, this wasted water comes not only from European reserves but also from the very countries where drinking water is most scarce.
Switching to a vegan diet will help significantly reduce the world’s water requirements.
Agriculture is also the number one water polluter. Slurry from cattle and other livestock pollutes groundwater, streams and rivers. The livestock sector is probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution.19
Manure and slurry contain high levels of nitrogen and phosphor. These elements can leach into groundwater and run off to pollute lakes, killing the fish and endangering the health of other animals. Ammonia is also given off and can cause acid rain.
Additionally, demand for animal feed is one of the major reasons behind the intensification of crop production. It is estimated that more than 4.5 billion litres of pesticide are now used annually in the UK.20 The harmful environmental effect of pesticides is now well documented. They can affect wildlife populations – from beetles to songbirds – and many are also deemed detrimental to human health.
By switching to a vegan diet you will help to improve water quality.