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Essay: Veganism is the solution to dramatically reduce global populations’ carbon footprint

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Veganism is the solution to dramatically reduce global populations’ carbon footprint. In recent years, the topic of carbon foot printing has infiltrated the media and our daily news. One’s carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by an individual’s human activity: diet, fossil fuel and energy use. Eliminating or reducing our carbon footprint has not been the easiest task as most of what has been done — recycling and lowered consumption of electricity or petrol — is not enough to combat climate change or global warming as phenomenon such as polar icecaps melting; harsh, abnormal weather conditions and extinction of animal populations have not ceased, despite our best efforts.

Thus, the scope of my research dives into the realm of veganism — a lifestyle that excludes the consumption of animals and their by-products; be it in the form of food intake, clothing, and lifestyle — and how by adopting said lifestyle would ultimately be a tremendous help to save our world’s climate and majorly reduce human carbon foot printing.

I believe this area of study and research to be crucially important for the sustainability and viability of human life to continue on earth as well as for the generations that are to proceed us. Through shedding light on this overlooked topic, I strive to educate and inspire people to think more consciously about the implications that their lifestyles have on the planet.

The aim of my investigation is to achieve a favourable, yet accurate outcome from my research. I will be making use of both primary research and secondary research. The primary research will consist of three test subjects: a vegan, a vegetarian and a western eater. A vegan can be classed as an individual who does not eat, purchase nor consume animals and their by-products. A vegetarian being an individual who does not eat animals, but consumes their respective by-products. Lastly, a western eater being an individual who consumes, buys and eats animals, their by-products and the extensions thereof.

The test subjects will record their daily dietetic intake, distance of travel using modern transport as well as products or goods they purchase. By recording the above and using accurate carbon calculators – a calculation of one’s total CO2 emissions – I can decipher which lifestyle is more environmentally sound, with lower carbon emissions.

Moreover, the secondary research I will be making use of is in the form of reputable, published articles by scientists, researchers and the like. These sources aim to shed light on the high carbon-emissions concerned with finished, non-vegan products such as leather and fur as well as that of non-plant-based foods. My secondary sources will be an important factor that will ensure validity in the aim of my research: to prove that a vegan lifestyle is in all facets, more beneficial to the planet than non-vegan diets and thus will ensure a favourable and sustainable carbon footprint for people, should they adopt a plant-based lifestyle.

The primary research I have conducted is in the form of a questionnaire posed to a small demographic of my peers. In the questionnaire, the test subjects will record their tallied daily dietetic intake, distance of travel using modern transport as well as products or goods they purchase within the span of a month. The data they accumulate over the period of a month will then be inputted into the questionnaire.

By recording the above and using accurate carbon calculators – a calculation of one’s annual CO2 emissions – I can decipher which lifestyle is more environmentally sound, with lower carbon emissions.

By utilising this small demographic of people, including myself, the Test Subjects’ outputs will show detailed and specific information regarding everyone’s carbon footprints and CO2 emissions as a result of their lifestyle choices. All the Test Subjects live in the same town, attend the same school, have a similar socio-economic background and thus proves to be more accurate. Having a small demographic, too, allows for better accuracy and reliability than a large-scaled 1000-person survey.

The three test subjects are a vegan (does not eat, purchase nor consume animals and their by-products), a vegetarian (does not eat animals, but consumes their by-products) and a western eater (consumes, purchases and eats animals, their by-products and the extensions thereof).

The test subjects in my investigation do not wish to be anonymous, therefore I will address “Test Subject 1: vegetarian” as Bailey; “Test Subject 2: vegan” as Sebastian and “Test Subject 3: western eater” as Hugo.

For the purpose of this primary research I will be using three different, but accurate carbon calculators for each Test Subject’s data. The three outcomes will be averaged to give a reliable answer. The relative answers should support and in most ways mirror the results found in the secondary research articles that I have utilised in this study that conveys veganism as the least environmentally destructive lifestyle that has the potential to combat climate change.

In order to have any information to work with, the Test Subjects have to fill out the questionnaire below. Their answers will be inputted into the carbon calculators which will supply me with the results I need to further the investigation.

As hypothesised in my introduction, a vegan lifestyle is in all facets, more beneficial to the planet than non-vegan diets and thus will ensure a favourable and sustainable carbon footprint for people, should they adopt a plant-based lifestyle. Through the following primary and secondary sources and research, this hypothesis is validated and shows further insight as to how veganism achieves sustainability through being a potential combater of climate change.

Firstly, the primary research that I conducted revolves around the lives of a vegan, a vegetarian and a western eater. The avenues considered to ensure that the study was fair are: Test Subjects live in the same town, have the same socio-economic background and attend the same school. Considering the above, their daily dietetic intake, distance of travel using modern transport as well as products or goods they purchase were recorded and entered into three separate CO2 calculators to see how many tonnes of carbon each person emits per year.

As predicted, veganism proved to emit the least CO2 emissions out of the three lifestyles at only 4,87 tonnes per annum . As for the vegetarian, they amounted to 8,37 tonnes per annum which is 71,87% more emitted carbon annually than the vegan. The western eater accumulated 12,66 tonnes per annum which emits 51,25% more CO2 than the vegetarian and 159,96% more CO2 annually than a vegan. Thus, veganism can be understood to hold extreme climate value as the most sustainable lifestyle in terms of combatting climate change and improving the wellbeing of the planet.

Through using Graph One as a visual aid, it can be inferred that Western diets account for the most annual carbon emissions; higher than any other lifestyle or diet. The vegetarian lifestyle gives some carbon emission relief from omitting meat from their diet, but it is not effective enough to be a lasting solution to the world’s current climate crisis.

To represent this information in mathematical terms, veganism emits 159,96% less carbon annually than a Western eater and 71,87% less than a vegetarian and can be understood to be the most sustainable lifestyle.

Continuing with Graph Two, the Test Subjects’ CO2 outcomes are moderately in line with the South African average for Bailey (vegetarian), drastically below average for Sebastian (vegan) and relatively higher for Hugo (Western eater). The further below the ‘average’ lies on the graph, in this case, proves it to be more sustainable.

Furthermore, the carbon emissions images provided with the outcomes by the World Wide Fund for Nature carbon calculator conceptualise the noticeable difference between Hugo and Bailey’s emissions (red foot) in contrast to that of Sebastian’s emissions (green foot). The colour difference shows which option is more ‘green’ and, thus sustainable. Therefore, veganism being the most environmentally sound lifestyle for climate stability. For the sake of interest, the world’s average and the United Kingdom’s average CO2 emissions have been supplied for further analysis to identify where individuals, communities and mass populations lie with their emissions in contrast to the world and the United Kingdom.

Moreover, the secondary research conducted by reputable scientists, researchers and reporters that I have utilised factcheck, support and validate what my primary research has just proved: veganism is in all facets, more beneficial to the planet than any other lifestyle. For example, this is conveyed from the graph in Source 1: “Greenhouse Gas Emissions across the Supply Chain” shows exactly how destructive food groups are to the earth and its climate. The most destructive being western foods (Beef and Lamb) to the least destructive being vegan foods (vegetables and nuts).

Thus, faux / synthetic clothing alternatives (vegan) are more sustainable due to their smaller carbon emissions. Similarly, Source 3: “Climate Impact” demonstrates the environmental strain inflicted by farming animals, specifically but not limited to minks and foxes for their fur. Ecological problems and risks are also raised for killing these animals for consumer purposes as animals like the above mentioned are becoming more extinct and scarcer due to the over-exploitation of them as resources. Thus, an already high carbon emission level accumulates further, especially with reports from Source 4: “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Animal Agriculture” which shows the amount

Furthermore, Source 6: “New Study: Vegan Diet Reduces Carbon Footprint by 73%” provides insight as to how the above can be dramatically reduced as well as peoples’ personal CO2 emissions. Further, it boasts endless benefits to the health of people and the earth as global acidification, eutrophication, land and water use can be adequately reduced due to the fact that vegan foods have a minimal or zero impact on the environment around them at all stages of its production cycle, unlike their non-vegan counterpart that is animal-farming. This is further elaborated on in Source 7: “The Meat Question by the Numbers” which conveys the deeper effects non-vegan foods have and how politicians’ inability to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, allows for the longevity and continuity of an environmentally unstable planet.

Lastly, Source 8: “Fight Climate Crisis by Going Vegan” gives ample avenues of how one can reduce emissions from the experts at the United Nations. It appeals to anyone of any social class and economic background which further portrays veganism as a lifestyle that can be adapted to easily as isn’t necessarily only afforded by the financial 1%.

Therefore, it can be concluded that a vegan lifestyle is in all facets, more beneficial to the planet than non-vegan diets and thus will ensure a favourable and sustainable carbon footprint for people as supported and validated by my primary and secondary sources and research in the realm of veganism.

Suggested recommendations to further credit my work would pertain to increasing the amount of vegans, vegetarians and western eaters in my primary research as well as conducting the research over a longer period to receive outcomes that are more accurate. Further, repeating the study multiple times in different seasons would show the seasonal fluctuation in CO2 emissions – providing more accurate readings of CO2 everyone emits – as one would usually use more energy in autumn and winter than summer or spring. The above would make my research fairer, to all parties involved, as shorter period studies can counterinfluence answers or give results that are only accurate for the given time, but not indefinitely for periods of time following the conclusion of my investigation.

Therefore, it can be deduced from the findings in my investigation as well as my secondary research that veganism is in all forms, more beneficial to the planet than non-vegan diets and lifestyle choices, and thus will ensure a favourable and sustainable carbon footprint for people as well as reducing health risks to humans and the planet, while conserving our global climate and the animals found within them.

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