The Real Reasons to Switch to a Plant-Based Diet

It’s no secret that veganism sometimes gets a bad rap. Nobody wants to be told the gruesome methods used in the making of their favorite foods, and cheese is just too good to give up sometimes. However, new vegan substitutes are becoming more and more accessible every day with the rise of concern with climate change. Switching to a plant-based diet can have many benefits ranging from prevention of animal-cruelty and long-term environmental ruin to maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle. The most immediate problem with the animal product industry, that many people are not aware of, is the pollution emissions which affect communities of lower income and marginalized groups disproportionately. Yes, environmental racism is real, and factory farms are largely responsible.

    Environmental racism is a result of regulations either not being enforced or being enforced selectively when it comes to the disposal of pollution on factory farms. Industrial farms in the U.S. alone produce about 500 million tons of manure per year, polluting the air and water supply of the surrounding communities. Due to the low cost of land in communities of lower-income, factory farms often choose these areas to set up camp, resulting in increased health problems of the residents of these communities--primarily people of color. The runoff from the manure lagoons located around these industrial farms permeate the surrounding water systems with pathogens and carcinogens that have been linked to serious health problems, cancers, and infections. Additionally, because many undocumented immigrants live in the surrounding communities, they do not participate in established health programs out of fear of exposure.

    Factory farms run by the upper class will always take advantage of lower-income communities. The only way we can help is by switching to plant-based diets. Local Tuscaloosa stores like Publix, Target, Trader Joe’s, and even Walmart have substitutes for almost any dairy or animal-based product you could need, making a vegan lifestyle accessible to most people. If going full vegan is too drastic, consider starting with meatless Mondays, or choosing one day of the week to eat plant-based. Any contribution helps.

 

Sources:

 

Mirabelli, Maria C et al. “Race, poverty, and potential exposure of middle-school students to air emissions from confined swine feeding operations” Environmental health perspectives vol. 114,4 (2005): 591-6.

 

Koneswaran, Gowri and Danielle Nierenberg. “Global farm animal production and global warming: impacting and mitigating climate change” Environmental health perspectives vol. 116,5 (2008): 578-82.

 

“Environmental Racism.” Peeling Back the Truth on Bananas | Food Empowerment Project, www.foodispower.org/environmental-racism/.

“Meat and the Environment.” PETA, www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-environment/.