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Very Important Message To All - A Biosphere Project Blog


In which is told how by becoming vegan or vegetarian you can make an immediate and massive contribution to the regeneration of our biosphere.



 



"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." 

Albert Einstein




"If you think that being vegan is difficult, imagine how difficult it is for animals that you are not vegan."

Gary L. Francione




“Eating meat is a leftover of the greatest brutality [killing]; the transition to vegetarianism is the first and most natural consequence of enlightenment.”

Leo Tolstoy




"There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." 

Charles Darwin









Dear readers and followers of A Biosphere Project,


As previously announced in this earlier post, in this blog of A Biosphere Project I will share information about the state of our biosphere, as well as ways to take action and contribute in the transitions that await us. 

The transition to a more beautiful world will depend primarily on a major evolutionary step in our consciousness and a just about all-encompassing systems change, but that does not take away from the fact that all of us individually can also do something to help initiate these transitions and enable a change in our collective story.


No, our individual actions will not save the world, but also: yes, our individual actions absolutely matter a great deal, each of us has influence, and each of us can help enable the transition. And in this blog, besides highlighting the aspects of the metacrisis, the bad news or the alarming reports, I will talk about concrete things we can all do to help shift the collective to a different world.






And let me start right away with food. A topic that is sensitive, and also already quite politically charged by now. But there is no way around it: how we feed ourselves will be the deciding factor in how we can create a path to a livable future, a future in which our species homo sapiens can exist in harmony with our biosphere and in which we can even become a 'keystone species,' a species that can play an important positive role in the ecosystem. A future in which we can truly assume our role as "stewards" of our planet.


And no, it's not true that the number of people currently populating our Earth makes it impossible to achieve that. Contrary to what a lot of people believe, we are actually quite capable of feeding eight billion people (or even many more) in a way that does not overburden the Earth, and this also without having to resort to food "printed" in laboratories or other high-tech methods. And while it would probably be preferable that less souls inhabit our wonderful planet (something that will happen in any case given the dramatic decline in birth rates worldwide excluding Africa), overpopulation in itself is not the biggest driver of the ecological meta-crisis right now.


The ecological metacrisis (of which the climate crisis is only one aspect) has many causes, and the burning of fossil fuels is usually put forward as the “main culprit”.

But on closer inspection, the biggest driver of most crises in our ecosystems is not our habit of using fossil fuels (however serious that issue is indeed) but this: our habit of eating meat. And by extension: our habit of raising cattle, pigs and chickens on an industrial scale, and (over)fishing our seas and oceans on an industrial scale.

And consequently, the quickest, most efficient way that everyone can immediately contribute to restoring the biosphere and safeguarding a possible path to a livable harmony with our planet is this: very strongly reduce or completely stop eating meat, and preferably also stop consuming fish and dairy. In other words, go vegan!






It was already known that reducing or ceasing our consumption of animal products has a beneficial effect on our impact on the health of the biosphere, but it has now become very clear that that effect is particularly significant.


Two recent and very comprehensive studies from the University of Oxford make it clear that little or nothing has as much and as direct an impact on our biosphere as our habit of producing and consuming animal products on an industrial scale.


The first study concludes after a trajectory of tracking the eating habits of 55,000 people, that switching to a vegan diet means a reduction of no less than 75 percent of your personal carbon footprint, as well as results in an equally far-reaching (three-quarters) reduction in your impact on water pollution and land use.


Let me repeat that: going vegan means that your personal footprint on CO2 emissions, water pollution and land use is reduced by three-fourths in one fell swoop.

Not to mention the untold improvement in your impact on biodiversity loss and the overall health of both your own body and that of the planet, of our biosphere.



The Oxford University study also dispenses with common claims that plant-based diets are equally or nearly as harmful to the planet due to the production of e.g. soy or almonds. No, this study shows, even if you take into account the most damaging aspects of certain production processes of certain vegetable products, the vegan diet and the vegetarian diet are still by far  the best for our planet. And this is quite apart from the many benefits to personal health, which are also becoming increasingly clear in study after study. Moreover, to produce one calorie of food from animal sources (beef or lamb) requires one hundred times more land than to produce one calorie of plant-based food. The same goes for protein: there, too, we see that to produce one gram of protein from beef or lamb requires a hundred times more land area than to produce one gram of protein from chickpeas or tofu. So it is simply a no-brainer: we must move away from industrial-scale production of protein from animal sources.



Diagram showing land use for production of 1000 calories.






Global food production is responsible for no less than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, 70 percent of water consumption, and 78 percent of freshwater pollution. In addition, agriculture is the largest driver of biodiversity loss through deforestation and the use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers.


As much as half of all farmland worldwide is now used for beef production. That means that if the world stopped eating beef, that in itself would make it possible to give back to nature no less than half of all farmland now in use. And rewilding much of the Earth’s surface will be an absolute necessity for stabilizing the climate and preserving the biodiversity and living organism that is our biosphere.


But it could get even better: if the world were to switch entirely to a plant-based diet, no less than three-quarters of all farmland now in use could be returned to nature. Three-quarters. Let me repeat that one more time: three-quarters of all the farmland now in use worldwide could be returned to nature if everyone went vegan.


Agriculture is also in other ways one of the biggest burdens on our biosphere at this point. And no, not because there are too many of us, but because (especially in the rich industrialized countries) we are using wrong farming methods. Large-scale industrial monocultures are just as harmful to our biosphere as livestock farming, something I also talked about in the essay ‘Our War Against Ourselves’. In addition to scaling back or eliminating animal agriculture, switching to regenerative organic farming will become a necessity. And yes, you can feed eight billion people with that, and more too. An authoritative U.N. report concluded years ago that switching to small-scale regenerative agriculture globally is the way to a new balance between meeting our needs and what our living planet can bear. You can read more about that report here and here.

You can expect more about all these issues in the blog and essays. Also about the impact of industrial fishing, which is no less harmful than industrial cattle ranching.

Similarly, I will write about my personal transition to veganism, now almost two years ago (and no, it wasn't hard, and yes, I eat tastier, more varied and healthier now, and I have much more energy). Without wishing to become a vegan fundamentalist, I will do my best to help promote enthusiasm for veganism or vegetarian lifestyles. Because that is the best and most efficient thing each of us can do for the planet in a practical sense right away, with the most immediate, quick and far-reaching results for the health of our biosphere as well as our own health. The future will be vegan, I'm sure. So more on this soon in the blog and essays.






Another common objection to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is the idea that it is much more expensive, and consequently something reserved for the happy few, for pampered yuppies who unworldly and somewhat hypocritically enjoy luxuries that would not be affordable to the majority of the population.

But a second recent study by the same University of Oxford demolishes the idea that a vegan lifestyle would be more expensive than a "regular" diet. No, it turns out: in most Western countries, including Europe and the U.S., switching to a vegan diet can result in savings  in the monthly food budget by as much as one-third!

You read that right, your food can become up to one-third cheaper if you go vegan.


You can read about this study on Oxford University's website.


The idea that vegetarian or vegan food is more expensive is also related to the idea that certain meat substitutes or ‘fake meat’ products are more expensive. But these products have already become much cheaper, and by now are often already cheaper than meat. But above all, vegetarian or vegan food can be eaten without meat substitutes: beans, lentils, soy, chickpeas, tofu and so on can provide the protein you get from meat, and are all much cheaper than meat.


The study also concludes that switching to an affordable plant-based diet is possible anywhere in the world, and even within the span of a decade. What is needed most of all is political will, and for that you need support for that idea in the population at large, in other words, people must be convinced that such a transition is necessary and possible. Hence it is also important not only to switch to a plant-based diet, but also to help spread the information about the need for such a transition. So, dear readers, help spread the word!






There is another reason to become vegetarian or vegan: the untold cruelty of industrial animal farming. I will not go into this aspect too deep now, but in study after study, it becomes clear that the whole process still causes indescribable suffering for billions and billions of sentient beings. Cows, pigs and chickens are indeed sentient and intelligent animals, and what we are doing to these fellow inhabitants of our planet is a daily holocaust on a planetary scale that is only possible because we completely dissociate ourselves from the production process of our steak, hamburger or chicken breast. I already talked about that dissociation process at length in the essay ‘To Feel or Not to Feel, That Is the Question’. More on that will follow in the blog as well, because it is an aspect equally essential to our relationship with the living planet and with ourselves. We cannot expect to live in harmony with our biosphere if we dissociate ourselves from such apocalyptic atrocities because we like to eat a hamburger or chicken wing on occasion. As Leo Tolstoy, who was a strong advocate for vegetarianism, put it, "As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields."



Leo Tolstoy, who was a great advocate for vegetarianism.






So let me summarize again: if you go vegan, you will eat much cheaper, much healthier, AND your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and land use will drop by as much as three-quarters. And moreover, you will no longer have any part in a cruel production process that inflicts untold suffering on billions of animals. Again: let's spread the word.


These studies are not the first to point out the awesome benefits of a vegan diet for yourself and the planet, but they are very extensive and authoritative.


They made me very happy, not least because I myself made the transition to a vegan lifestyle in September 2022. Vegetarian I had been since April 2020, and this next step came very organically and effortlessly. So I'll share a bit more about my experiences in my transition to vegan food another time. I can already tell you that it is 1) not difficult, 2) fun, 3) results in tastier, more creative and more varied eating.


Now, not everyone has to go vegan right away. Every little bit helps, and a vegetarian diet is already great for our planet. If you find completely stopping eating meat or dairy too difficult, you already have a big impact just by eating less meat or by scrapping beef from the menu. And if your meat or dairy comes from a small-scale local regenerative organic farmer, that's already a very different impact than if you just source your meat from industrial animal agriculture or chicken farms.

There are so many gradations and nuances possible. I myself, by the way, am also flexible: if I'm having dinner with friends or at a restaurant, vegetarian is also fine. I don’t want to make life too difficult for anyone making a meal for me who is not familiar with vegan cooking. And in unguarded moments I can still let myself go sometimes in indulging in an ice cream or pancake. But it is becoming increasingly clear: the less meat we all eat, the happier our biosphere becomes. Not to mention how happy the cows, pigs, chickens, and fish become. 


Spread the word!


Thank you for reading or listening, until the next episode,


All the best to you,

Filip



Curious cows in Somogy Province, Hungary. Photo: Filip Van Kerckhoven



 


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