Vegans use less water globally
The world will only have 60% of the water it needs by 2030 without significant global policy change, according to a recent report from the U.N.
This situation is predicted to worsen as our population expands and consumption per capita increases with more and more people adopting resource-intensive Western meat eating 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. For example, it takes 15,500 litres of water to produce 1 kg beef, contrasted with 180 litres for 1 kg tomatoes and 250 litres for 1 kg potatoes.
Consuming animal products is incredibly resource-intensive. Globally, farming uses about 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater. This is compared to around 20% for industry, and about 10% for domestic use.
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.
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.
Demand for animal feed is one of the major reasons behind the intensification of crop production. Stop the demand – go vegan!