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Industrial animal agriculture is anything but kind to animals, but did you know it’s also a major source of deforestation, air and water pollution, and species extinction?

There are billions of farm animals being raised around the world for the purpose of producing meat, eggs, and dairy – and the resources needed to sustain them in terms of feed, land, and water are enormous. It’s estimated that around 50 percent of the world’s arable land is dedicated to the livestock system and a majority of our freshwater stores go towards this as well. As our global population increases, and the demand for animal products rises in the developing world, we’re simply going to run out of space and resources to rear animals for food.

With the looming population peak of 9.8 billion by 2050 in mind, a future with animal agriculture at the center of food production with animal agriculture looks rather dim and uncertain. We must change our ways. And fast. But how? Well, according to a new report, the answer might be rather simple.

The Vegan Society recently released the Grow Green 2 report in conjunction with the New Economics Foundation, the second in their series on the subject, which follows the first Grow Green report in 2015. The report details how we can move away from animal farming and instead, grow more crops for human consumption. Considering how U.K. residents currently eat an average of around 50 percent more protein than recommended in a healthy diet, The Vegan Society says that the shift of plant-protein to replace animal protein is “desperately needed.” This important report also comes on the heels of WWF’s findings that the production of livestock feed is fueling the loss of biodiversity across the UK – and subsequently, the entire world.

 

The report recommends a farmed animal tax, as well as Protein Aid Scheme for farmers who grow plant-protein crops such as peas, lentils, and beans. The report went on to recommend that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programs after 2020 should offer resources to support farmers who want to transition for livestock farming to protein crops for human consumption.

The Vegan Society notes how UK climate provides ideal soil for growing plant proteins such as fava, beans, peas and hemp seed, but, “…the UK currently assigns only 16 percent of its agricultural land to growing protein crops, much of which are used to feed farmed animals.” In total, about 18 million acres of forest are lost worldwide every year to soy to feed livestock. If people just consumed plant-protein directly, it would save a lot of suffering and damage to the planet.

Pea protein, for example, is an excellent source of plant-based protein, with 15 grams per serving in pea protein isolate. And on top of that, it’s low-fat and free from dairy, soy, wheat, gluten, and cholesterol. Not to mention, the environmental impact of pea protein is significantly less than that of animal agriculture.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait for farmers to switch to plant-based crops. With the world’s population estimated to reach over nine billion people by 2050, we need to take a serious look at our food choices. Mitigating the deforestation associated with soy production boils down to limiting your consumption of animal products. By eating less meat, we can also help fight climate change, reduce our water footprint, reduce pollution, and prevent further habitat destruction and species extinction, plus redirect grain for people to eat.

You can #EatForThePlanet starting today. Just follow the three simple steps below.

1. Moderate: Limit consumption of your favorite meats like beef, lamb, pork, etc.

2. Replace: Try to swap animal-based products in your daily diet with vegan alternatives (milk, butter, mayo, cheese, grilled chicken, beef crumbles, sausages, cold cuts, etc.)

3. Embrace: Add plant-based whole foods (local and organic when possible) to your diet like greens, fresh fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, plant proteins like lentils, nuts/seeds, beans, tofu, etc.

As Nil Zacharias, the co-founder of One Green Planet says, “Eat in a way that nourishes you without starving the planet.”

We all have the power to create a better future for our children, and the countless animals we share the planet with, by making one easy swap. If you’re ready to start doing this in your own life, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

Image source: 305 Seahill/Flickr

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