Why I’m eating less meat and dairy, and why you should too

28th December 2019

The global animal agriculture industry has expanded at a rapid rate and has made an undeniable impact on our planet. Raleigh ICS alumni Emily explains why she thinks the meat and dairy industry poses such an environmental problem and why she became vegan to help be a part of the solution.

I became vegan 11.5 years ago, after learning the heart-breaking truth of the egg and dairy industries and realising that being vegetarian was just not enough. I then began to research how the agriculture industry was destroying our planet. I learnt how animal agriculture was a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, making it a leading contributor to the climate crisis and its negative consequences across the globe. I was shocked to learn that on top of this, the animal agriculture industry is a leading cause of deforestation, land degradation, habitat loss, species extinction, soil erosion, ocean deadzones and acidification.

Every year, 77 billion farm animals are reared for food, using 45% of the worlds land, 50% of the worlds crops and 30% of the worlds available water, causing catastrophic damage to the life on this planet. For so long, I couldn’t understand why people weren’t talking about this, or doing anything about this, much like Kip, the director starring in the Cowspiracy documentary, but when I saw this documentary everything made sense.

Now it has never been easier to eat vegan food, and the world is waking up and taking action. So many exciting things have already happened in 2019 – vegan options are everywhere, flooding the supermarket shelves and popping up all over menus at cafes/restaurants.

But why should we eat less meat and dairy?

There are so many ways in which industry is unsustainable and destroying the planet through the climate crisis, of which the unsustainable demand for meat and dairy products is the number 1 contributor. Recognising that those in developing countries who have impacted the least towards the climate crisis will be affected the most is a difficult pill to swallow and makes us question if the convenience of our eating habits can be justified when it is having such negative impacts on people worldwide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land. So we need to act now.

Here are some key benefits of eating a vegan diet:

  • Individually, eating vegan is one of the easiest and most effective ways we can reduce our impact of the planet and lower our carbon footprint.
  • Eating a plant-based diet can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 70%, use 1/11th less oil, 1/13th less water and 1/18th less land compared to a meat-eaters diet.
  • Each day a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square foot of forest land, 20 pounds of co2 and one animals life.

What can you do?

Give it a go! Its never been easier to go vegan, and its only getting easier every day with new foods coming out, new restaurants opening, new documentaries, and a whole world of online tips, recipes, blogs and YouTube cooking channels! Do your own research, educate yourself, and do what makes your conscience smile. Some documentaries I would highly recommend are:

  • The Game Changers – Directed by Lewis Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan – Famous athletes discuss the health benefits of a plant-based diet for optimal performance.
  • Cowspiracy – The film environmental organizations don’t want you to see, and the detrimental impacts the animal agriculture industry is having on our planet.
  • Forks Over Knives – A nutritional biochemist and top surgeon’s ground-breaking discoveries of how chronic heart disease and type 2 diabetes can almost always be prevented, and in many cases reversed by adopting a whole foods, plant based diet.
  • Land of hope and glory – A 2017 film reveals the hidden truth inside the UKs factory farms.
  • Seven Worlds One Planet – David Attenborough’s newest documentary.

Challenge yourself – sign up to Veganuary!

For those who like a challenge, check out www.veganuary.com and join the global vegan challenge for the month of January – last year 250,000 people signed up and next time is set to blow that number out of the water! Is it time to make some changes and join the movement of people fighting for our planet?


If you, like Emily, are passionate about an important sustainability issue, then share your voice on the Raleigh blog. Get in touch at alumni@raleighinternational.org 

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