Going Vegan for the Environment

Posted by – August 22, 2015
Categories: Ecology & Sustainability Excerpt Food & Nutrition Health & Healing Psychology & Personal Growth

Excerpt from Conscious Parenting by Gabriel Cousens, MD, and Leah Lynn


9781583949962In their forthcoming book, Conscious Parenting, world-renowned holistic medical doctor, psychiatrist, family therapist, and spiritual teacher Gabriel Cousens partners with Leah Lynn, author of Baby Greens: A Live-Food Approach for Children of All Ages, to provide a comprehensive guide for parents who are seeking a whole-life approach to raising children who are healthy, happy, and centered.

Below is an excerpt from Conscious Parenting on how, through veganism, our children can reverse the destruction of the earth. They can stand up to and transform a meat-eating, cruel, culture-of-death world by having clearer minds, morals, ethics, and a spiritual understanding that supports them in not going along with group-think.

To make the transition easier, we’ve included three simple and delicious snack recipes from Conscious Parenting that you and your kids are sure to love:



Prevention and Remediation of Ecological Destruction
Caused by a Meat-Centered Diet

The ecological destruction of the planet is being greatly accelerated by a meat-centered diet. An estimated fifty to seventy percent of the water in the U.S. is used for livestock feed and production. This is particularly significant in light of the current droughts on the West Coast, in the Southwest, and in other areas of the United States. Many other places around the world are also facing serious drought.

The math speaks clearly for itself: It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, compared with twenty-five gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat. A meat-centered diet effectively requires 4,500 gallons of water each day to sustain, whereas a vegetarian diet requires about 300. So vegan families save approximately 1.5 million gallons of water per person a year, compared to an omnivore.

Animal agriculture also uses approximately thirty-three percent of the world’s raw materials for the production of livestock, compared to the two percent of the world’s raw materials used for vegetarian agriculture.

Every individual calorie of meat consumed requires thirty-two calories of energy to produce. While estimates vary, it takes about forty times more calories of fossil fuel to get one calorie of beef protein, compared to that same calorie of protein from soybeans. Eighty-five percent of topsoil loss is due to animal agriculture. Every five seconds, an acre of trees disappears, mostly to clear land for beef cattle. Rainforests are being cut down at a rate of thirty-one million acres a year, an area roughly the size of New York City.

The livestock are also creating a tremendous amount of excrement. The farm-animal population produces over 230,000 pounds of excrement each second. By comparison, the human population produces an estimated 12,000 pounds of excrement each second. This equates to a huge amount of waste and environmental pollution caused by the livestock, as pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and pathogens are released into our rivers, lakes, and land—which becomes an even more glaring imbalance in these times when we are facing such a critical shortage of water. Twenty-five percent of all E. coli infections can be traced back to fruits and vegetables grown with infected manure. Meat-eating and its byproducts are a public health issue as well as a global resource survival issue.

The United Nations and the European Union have reflected that meat-eating could be the primary reason for world deforestation. A 2006 U.N. report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow suggests that animal agriculture is one of the chief contributors to environmental problems on every scale, from local to global. The reports estimate that animal agriculture contributes to up to eighteen percent of global warming gases, compared to CO2 production from industry and transportation contributing just nine percent. This is indeed an inconvenient truth for supporters of animal agriculture. In June 2010 the United Nations and the European Commission called for a shift toward a vegan diet to save the Earth.

The United Nations is not exactly a vegan organization, but they’ve launched a major report calling for radical change in the way that world economies use resources—because those resources are dwindling. They identified overuse of fossil fuels and animal agriculture as the two leading causes of environmental degradation. The report highlighted the fact that there is an unsustainably large proportion of the world’s crops currently fed to livestock. This results in ecological damage from excessively high water consumption and the toxic effects of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. The report states that a global drop in meat consumption is vital to avoid devastating global warming consequences. The authors of this report recommend that a substantial decrease in impact will only be possible with a substantial worldwide dietary shift away from a meat-centered diet.

The “cow in the living room” is also a primary source of methane, which has a twenty-seven times greater global warming effect than CO2, and of nitrogen from manure, whose effect is 296 times greater. Nitrogen contributes as much as sixty percent of global-warming gases. Livestock’s Long Shadow also points out that for every kilogram of animal protein produced, livestock are fed about six kilograms of plant protein, a highly energy-inefficient ratio. The report further states that it takes eight times as much fossil fuel to produce animal food than plant food. Some researchers feel that this figure is too conservative, and estimate it takes twenty-two times more fossil fuel to create animal food than plant-source alternatives.

This imbalance creates a serious desecration of our ecology. Animal agriculture represents the worst synthesis of industrialization, capitalism, and technology to threaten the survival of the planet. It creates monumental costs in environmental decay and, ultimately, an overburdened healthcare system as well. Presently, cattle take up a quarter of the Earth’s arable land, and about ninety percent of U.S. agricultural land is used for animals. The resultant overgrazing affects everything in the environment including climate, water, and soil erosion.

Animal agriculture and an omnivorous diet are a dramatic, traumatic environmental insult. Each pound of animal feed produced causes the erosion of thirty-five pounds of topsoil. The impact of making one quarter-pound hamburger destroys fifty-five feet of rainforest; and 100 species of animals are estimated to become extinct with every two billion fast-food hamburgers sold.

These are things we can share with our children, so that they can become environmental protectors and heroes for saving the planet and their own lives. One acre of grain yields five times more protein than an acre of beef. One acre of leafy green vegetables yields twenty-five times more protein than an acre of beef. We can illustrate these facts very clearly to children.

Anyone who wants to blame global weather changes on that human-caused nine percent carbon dioxide, while ignoring the far more serious effects of animal agriculture—which has twice the global warming effect as the carbon dioxide from industry and transportation—is in a state of serious ignorance or gross denial. The overall ecological evidence is that animal agriculture is a primary causal factor in climate change, and leads us to the obvious conclusion about how to protect the planet: Go vegan!

Easy Vegan Recipes You
& Your Kids Will Love!

Dinosaur Kale Chips

These are crunchy, oily, and salty like potato chips, but won’t raise blood-sugar levels like white potatoes. The olive oil is heated to low temperatures rather than fried, and therefore is not carcinogenic. Not to mention that this is the nutrient-packed super-green—kale!

  • 1 large bunch dinosaur (lacinato) kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan or other high-mineral raw salt

Remove kale stalks. Add olive oil and salt, and mix thoroughly. Spread kale onto dehydrator trays and dehydrate for 3–4 hours, or until crispy.

Variation: If you do not have a food dehydrator, kale can be spread onto a stainless-steel cookie sheet and dried in a conventional oven at 170° (or at the lowest temperature), or even under a sunlamp, for 1–2 hours.

Avocado-Hempseed Yogurt

  • 1 large ripe avocado 10 ounces frozen dark, sweet cherries
  • 1 cup Coconut Kefir (recipe above)
  • ⅓ cup hemp seeds
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 1 dropper lemon-flavored or unflavored stevia
  • 2 teaspoons probiotic powder, such as Ultra Blend (this is not a starter such as the Master Culture Blend), available at www.DrCousensOnlineStore.com.

Blend until thick and creamy, and serve.

Grandma’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


This recipe is inspired by Leah’s mom, who made nut butter-coconut- oat refrigerator cookies for her as a child. Her grandkids love ’em too.

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • ⅓ cup lucuma powder
  • ⅓ cup date paste or coconut nectar syrup
  • 2 tablespoons structured or filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, in liquid form
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch Himalayan or other high-mineral raw salt
  • ½ cup raisins

In a medium mixing bowl, stir dry ingredients together. Mix in wet ingredients. Roll by the tablespoonful into balls, and flatten. Moistening your hands before rolling can be helpful. Chill until firm, and serve with Nut/Seed Mylk, or a cup of warm tea.

Excerpted from Conscious Parenting by Gabriel Cousens, MD, and Leah Lynn. © 2015, North Atlantic Books.

Tags: Children's Health Climate Change Family & Parenting Gabriel Cousens Recipe Vegetarian & Vegan Ecology

About the Author

Maren began her publishing career as an intern at Counterpoint and Soft Skull Press, where she stayed on for more than four years as a publicist and web coordinator. She joined the NAB team in 2015 and is still stoked about it—she gets to read her Rob Brezsny horoscope (Scorpio)​ before anyone else! Maren lives in Oakland with a monstrous Maine Coon and spends the majority of her spare time convincing him to not eat all of her houseplants. Sometimes she has time to write, paint things, garden, or repair furniture.​