In my last blog post I wrote about Us Veg Week, April 20-26, sponsored by Compassion over Killing. The weeklong event was intended to explore the benefits of meatless eating for improved health, an improved planet, and to highlight the need for more animal welfare protections.
Since the goal was to eat vegan I started thinking about a non-dairy diet beyond my food allergy to milk products. What is the impact of dairy on our diets and the environment? Here are some interesting things I learned:
According to the World WildLife Federation, dairy cows and their manure produce greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change. Poor handling of manure and fertilizer degrade local water resources.
The USDA reports manure from 200 milking cows produces as much nitrogen as sewage from communities of 5000-10,000 people.
With extensive genetic manipulation, cows today produce up to 12 times more milk than they would naturally produce. FreeFromHarm.org also reports 3 million cows are slaughtered every year at only a fraction of what should be their normal lifespan. The carcasses become beef and hamburgers sold in stores and restaurants.
A North Dakota State University Study shows cows can drink up to 23 gallons of water a day, as compared to humans which drink less than one gallon of water per day on average. And did you know California is the nation’s leading dairy producing state? This is the same state suffering from a severe drought.
While I don’t consume milk products out of necessity, I’m wondering if these statistics are important enough for milk eaters to perhaps reduce some of their intake. My husband, who loves cheese and most meats, took the Veg Pledge and ate completely vegan, as I normally do, for the week. “I never was hungry and I actually found ways to eat more creatively. Food had more taste and I never felt like I was giving anything up. From now on I’m eating much less dairy and meat” said Dean. And another benefit, he lost 10 pounds eating vegan during Veg Week!
What did you learn from the US Veg Week Challenge? Is consuming less dairy and/or meat something you will continue doing?