Many are "going" vegan/vegetarian with the motivation of "helping" the "environment". The quotation marks are necessary as these terms are extremely broad and largely misunderstood. We'll go with the basic understandings to save space.
First we must establish that comparing a vegan diet to an omnivore one means we are conceding that factory farming is evil. It enslaves animals in feed lots with little or no room to move. They may be caged in very in-humane conditions. This is just "touching the tip of the iceberg"...
But we need to ask the consumer of food, "where does your food grow"? The vegan gets protein from grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Do these grow locally? Rarely. So they need to be transported, often thousands of kilometres. Not only does this cause immense pollution but the roads and production of the vehicles themselves wipe out eco-systems.Let's remember that there are over 6000000 car accidents in the U.S. alone. Some estimate non-human victims at the rate of 1000000/day.
How is the food grown? To farm, forests, meadows, swamps, prairie lands are wiped out - as are all the animals, insects, micro-organisms that lived there. Entire eco-systems are devoured to grow the vegans' food. Is this good for the planet?
Why is it ok to wipe out micro-organisms but not kill a cow? This presents the hierarchy of the value of life underlying the vegan's choice of food. Of course, damage can be somewhat minimalized through organic ag but incredible damage continues.
Agriculture creates deserts. It destroys the soil. Soil is life. Some say we were formed from soil [Genesis creation account]. We cannot live without it. It is full of life. Two hand fulls of soil have more microorganisms in it than there are people on this planet! All are wiped out to grow the vegans' food Good for the environment?
In the N.E. U.S. and Canada, the soil has been becoming less. Many think this is due to the growing of grains without animals providing the all important manure. Manure builds the soil. And as cows pull on PERENNIALS, they actually increase in root structure and volume. Annuals require the soil to be worked up by a tractor - which pollutes and the soil is degraded and compacted. Having perennials and animals that eat them builds the soil.
And what makes plants grow? Manure or fossil fuel derived fertilizers. Animals poop is the best - the balanced way to fertilize and build the soil. If you are against this...well then, get out the toxic chemical fertilizers. What are they made from? Oil. And remember the 2000000000 dead people of Iraq when eating the soy burger! Not only is soy very unhealthy [a future discussion], but its' short roots do little for the soil. And remember that all soy, unless organic is GMO. Now you're supporting the control of our food by the M corp. [Monsanto].[Editor's note: they have recently been bought-out by Bayer - who control over 25% of the toxic spray market].
To build the soil, perennials need to be grown in place of annuals . The animals poop feeds the land, builds the land, builds the soil. This soil is the basis of all life. Without fertile soil we can not grow food...we can not live. Fertile soil is also a carbon sink.
Let us continue the discussion. Highly recommended is Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth".