Ethical Living

Global Warming and Veganism: Change is coming, but we all need to be a part of it

By Bethany Griffiths

It seems that in today’s society the warnings about climate change are inescapable. The media is saturated with forebodings about the future of our planet and what is in store for us if we don’t start thinking about our environmental choices. This is where veganism comes into play, for with the rise of Veganuary seeing more big businesses switch to more ethical practices and releasing vegan products, it has been almost impossible to go a single day without reading an update about veganism. Beyonce and Jay-z have even teamed up with the 22 Days Nutrition Greenprint Project, using their influence to encourage fans to adopt even a partial plant-based diet in order to win a lifetime of free tickets to their concerts. With every vegan post, however, there is always the negativity that comes attached, with life-long meat-eaters criticising the movement, suggesting that there is no need for everyone to adopt a plant-based lifestyle and that forebodings about the climate are merely fearmongering.

The increase in media coverage, however, is not the only warning that climate change is having an effect on our planet. Last summer was one of the hottest summers in a decade and, despite the rather chilly weather we are having at the moment, this winter has seen milder temperatures than usual for this time of year across the globe. Let’s not mention the number of sea creatures pictured dead as a result of swallowing tonnes of plastic – to ignore that we are having a dangerous impact on our planet is naïve (to say the very least).

Recently scientists have warned that there are only around 12 years left before the earth’s temperature will exceed 1.5C, and when this happens there will be an increased risk of droughts, flooding, extremities in heat, and immense poverty. We have started to see the impacts already with record-breaking hurricanes in the US and even fires raging in the Arctic. Despite this, nobody (minus a very select few) seem worried enough to make any radical change. Complacency is the main issue here, with many believing that the problem will probably never come to a head in their lifetime, and a lack of willpower to change – oh, and of course, money. The real question is what can we as individuals do to try and slow down the rate of climate change?

One of the simplest answers lies in veganism. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions – this is more than the combined exhaust fumes of all transportation.[1] Livestock accounts for at least 32,000 million tonnes of CO2 per year – 51% of ALL worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. So, let’s do something about this.

You may think that going vegan is not going to solve the problem and that if we all went vegan as a collective then this would negatively affect the world’s population of livestock. Now, let’s consider for a second: the rate at which we are producing livestock is beyond the bounds of what can possibly be perceived as natural. Gone are the days when you would collect milk from your local dairy farm holding 3-4 cows; instead, we have the days of battery farming and mass slaughter. Cows are being produced at an alarming rate for the sole purpose of producing milk and beef. This. Is. Not. Natural. Nothing about the mass dairy industry can be called natural, let alone ethical.

We need to do more as a planet to save our future. If more people went vegan or even ate a few more plant-based meals a week we could drastically change our future. We can show politicians and those who hold capital that we are demanding change and wanting a better future, and this has already started to happen with the growth in companies producing and advertising vegan goods. Change is coming, but we all need to be a part of it.


[1] All statistics on agriculture are taken from Cowspiracy.