Veganism is a way of life that avoids the use of animal products in eating (meat, fish, poultry, wild game, dairy, honey, gelatin, for example) and in other aspects of life (leather goods, down, furs, skins, silk, personal care products that are tested on animals, etc.).
Individuals committed to veganism reject animal cruelty. They view animals as sentient beings with rights that transcend any human need to use animals to their own advantage - be it for food, clothes, entertainment or even medical research.
A commitment to veganism is also a commitment to the environment, to combating climate change, to reducing the ecological footprint and to respecting all aspects of Nature.
There has never been a better time to become a vegan. Guardian columnist, George Monbiot has written: “The earth cannot accommodate our need and greed for food. We must change our diet before it is too late” (11.12.2017). According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), “The world is facing a future of food shortages and mass migration as a consequence of widespread water shortages caused by global warming” (23.12.2015). The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), states that “Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increased water scarcity due to climate change will alter the suitability of vast regions for food production and human habitation" (UNCCD, Global Land Outlook, First Edition, 2017, 11).
Long-term food and water security will require shifts away from resource-intensive production, carbon-intensive processing and transport, land intensive diets (primarily from increased demand for animal products and processed foods), and the current high levels of food waste, including post-harvest losses (UNCCD, Global Land Outlook, First Edition, 2017, 12).
The amount of water and land required to produce beef, for example, is exponentially greater than that needed for other food products (chocolate notwithstanding!). The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IME) states that to produce 1kg of meat requires between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water; whereas, to produce 1kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water. In addition, large tracts of land are required to support much of the world's current eating practices.
(Guardian, 2016 - Source, IME)
(Guardian Graphic: Source, Our World using data from Clark and Tilman)
Veganism could be part of the solution. It is possible that a widespread, plant-based, diet could help to alleviate both water shortages due to global warming and the concomitant desertification of much of the earth's surface.