Maclean’s, one of Canada’s oldest publications, has joined The Economist and Forbes in declaring 2019 “The Year of the Vegan.”
The 115-year-old publication highlights important trends we’ll see in the coming year, including an increasing interest in veganism throughout the country. Maclean’s announcement comes just a week after The Economist predicted that veganism would be a popular topic of the new year, calling 2019 “the year veganism goes mainstream,” and Forbes published an article predicting that more people would “embrace a plant-based lifestyle” in 2019.
Maclean’s author Jessica Scott-Reid notes the rise in demand for vegan meat substitutes throughout the world—an average of 9.3 percent each year between 2012 and 2017—and that many Canadians are looking to lower meat consumption and are choosing more plant-based foods.
And while Scott-Reid includes health concerns and fighting world hunger as reasons for the growing interest in veganism, she emphasizes what animal agriculture is doing to the environment. She writes:
Animal agriculture is killing the planet—and that’s why 2019 is the year that veganism becomes a moral imperative.
Animal agriculture’s environmental impact is enormous. Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change. In fact, a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that we may have as few as 12 years to cut global emissions by 45 percent to prevent global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avert a catastrophe.
Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits.
What’s more, animal agriculture is a main cause of freshwater pollution, deforestation, ocean destruction, and loss of wildlife and biodiversity.
Recent EPA records reveal that out of the 98 monitored, three-quarters of large U.S. slaughterhouses discharged toxic waste directly into nearby streams and rivers, violating pollution control permits. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of ocean dead zones. Moreover, Tyson has dumped more toxic pollution into our waterways than ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical, and that doesn’t even include pollution from its factory farms.
Almost half the land in the lower 48 states is used for animal agriculture, and the industry encroaches on many wildlife habitats.
Farming animals for food also uses up massive amounts of the Earth’s limited resources, including nearly 70 per cent of agricultural land available on the planet, plus another 10 per cent to grow animal feed. It takes approximately seven kilograms of grain and more than 15,000 litres of water to produce a single kilogram of beef—talk about an inefficient use of resources in the face of a surging world population.
There is no such thing as “sustainable” meat. And the facts prove that plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs take a mere fraction of the resources to produce as their animal-based counterparts. There’s no denying it: Killing animals is killing the planet and the time to act is now.
The rise in people going vegan to reduce their carbon footprints is good news not just for the environment but for the billions of animals who suffer each day at factory farms. From birth to death, these animals are trapped in a nightmare: crated and caged, cut and burned, and brutally killed. With no federal laws regulating the treatment of animals at factory farms, cruelty has become the norm.
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