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Vegan Culture, Environment and Conservation – Can Plants Save Animals?

Matabeleland North vegans believe their culture contributes towards conservation efforts to protect the environment. Image by Unsplash

Another culture appears to be the answer at a time when conservationists are worried about the preservation of species and involving communities through awareness campaigns. The vegan lifestyle is currently all the rage, although opinions on it vary.
BY CALVIN MANIKA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | APR 13, 2023

MATABELELAND (The Citizen Bulletin) – Evans Moyo (35) is a vegan, and says he has never tasted any meat for the past five years.

Moyo says this is his contribution towards conservation efforts to protect the environment.

“Each bite of food we eat has an impact on the ecosystem,” he says.

“By reducing our use of animal products and adopting a vegan lifestyle, we can slow the threat of climate change, limit the rapid depletion of Earth's resources, and protect our planet for future generations.”
Evans Moyo 35-year-old vegan

Vegetarian and vegan diets, according to proponents of the culture, have a smaller negative impact on the environment and are longer-lasting.

Vegan and environmentalist Norah Ganda says eating a diet high in whole foods and plant based products is good for the environment and one’s health.

“Veganism is a beautiful approach to preserve animals, enhance human health, and reduce global warming all at the same time,” Ganda adds.

According to a report by the think tank Chatham House, agriculture poses the biggest threat to 86% of the 28,000 species that are known to be in danger of going extinct.
It warns that if nothing changes, the rate of biodiversity loss will increase and endanger the ability of the planet to support civilization.

The report says the devastation of the natural world is mostly caused by the global food system, and switching to diets based primarily on plants is essential to reversing the harm.

“The main cause is a vicious cycle of inexpensive food, in which higher demand and waste are caused by low prices, which are then further lowered by increased competition and the use of pesticides and fertilizers that are harmful to the environment,” notes Chatham House.
Research shows that more than 80% of global farmland is used to raise animals, yet only supply 18% of calorie intake.
Stopping the upward trend in meat consumption relieves the need to clear more land and prevents further wildlife destruction.
Experts say, this second method, which involves restoring native ecosystems to boost biodiversity, also frees up existing acreage.
Gilbert Kwaramba, an environmentalist and climate analyst claims that addressing the global food issue would also address the climate crisis.
“More than half of the greenhouse gas emissions related to the food chain are caused by animals. Improvements in food production could also address the 3 billion people with poor nutrition, obesity, or both, which results in trillions of dollars in healthcare expenditures each year,” says Kwaramba.

Farmers in Matabeleland North, many of whom are involved in cattle ranching, express fears that the vegan movement poses a threat to their industry.

“It would be unfair to us farmers if we fully stopped raising animals for food. More importantly, people must consume meat,” argues Matetsi farmer Mduduzi Ngwenya.
However, proponents of vegan culture say vegetarianism helps to stop deforestation and the loss of wildlife habitat.
“Veganism is among the best strategies for reducing animal suffering. It has a greater impact on the environment since fewer animals are grown to suffer and die on farms and at slaughterhouses,” says Moyo.
In relation to conventional dairy production, Moyo claims pollution is a real concern.
“Vegan milk substitutes like soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and oat milk should be taken into consideration because they have less of an impact on the environment than dairy does. The environmental impact of traditional dairy products is reduced by a variety of dairy substitutes.”
November 1st is World Vegan Day.
According to environmentalist Tracy Hudini, a large portion of the food produced worldwide is not consumed by people.
An estimated 700 million tons of food that could be consumed by people each year are given to animals.
“Although meat is more calorie-dense than vegetables, if that area were given over to different plants, more aggregate calories could be generated,” Hudini notes.
“However, the Earth's general ability to produce food is constrained by all the deforestation, overfishing, and pollution brought on by the meat and fish industries. More people might be fed at a lower cost to the environment if more acreage was used to cultivate crops for people.”

ALSO READ: Open Defecation – An Environmental Health Concern in Lupane

According to experts, neither the earth can sustain the pollution that would result from raising enough meat to feed every soul on the planet.
Hudini says a vegan diet can reduce water usage by up to 50%.
“Clean water is out of reach for hundreds of millions of people worldwide,” Hudini says.
“More fresh water is consumed by livestock than by almost anything else. Moreover, they contribute significantly to freshwater pollution. There will be more water available if more livestock are replaced by plants.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) details the increased risk of colorectal cancer from regular eating of red meat and processed meat.
This is in addition to the current worries about heart disease, stroke, and other health issues.

Vegans in Matabeleland North claim that raising animals also contributes to the degradation of the land.

“The least detrimental to the earth is the vegan diet, vegan activist” Romeo Banda argues.

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