For anyone who is passionate about the ocean, we all know today that the Big Blue is gravely threatened. This majestic environment upon which the very life on earth depends, is under siege.
"No blue, no green" in the iconic words of Dr. Sylvia Earle.
And we all deeply believe in actively doing things to protect this exquisite expanse of beauty and biodiversity.
However, what most of us don’t know is that 3 times a day, there is 1 activity we do which has the greatest overall impact on the ocean - 365 times a year.
And that is.... we choose what we eat. We choose what is at the end of our knives and forks.
But how does what we eat impact our beloved Big Blue? Very few of us realise just how massive an impact our diets have on this precious ecosystem.
The world’s oceans are currently teetering on the brink of collapse due to large-scale commercial fishing operations, and the collapse of our oceans will spell disaster for all life on our planet. In the words of marine life conservationist Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd “if the oceans die, we all die.”
According to FishCount.org’s extrapolation of FAO data, its estimated that at least 1 trillion tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year.
And what is even more deeply disturbing, is that it’s not just the amount of fish being taken from the ocean for food that is the issue. According to the FAO, for every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine life (such as whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks) are caught and discarded as bycatch.
As passionate ocean lovers, many of us choose to eat "sustainable seafood”.
But if we are eating a diet which includes meat, we have to realise that 33% of fish caught in the world's oceans is ground up for animal feed – to supply the livestock and farmed fish industries.
According to a report from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, 80% of global fish stocks are “fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.”
Also, about 90% of large predatory fish stocks (sharks, swordfish, and bluefin tuna) have been diminished.
Ravaging our oceans to this extent, it cannot come as a surprise therefore that some scientists now believe we could see fishless oceans by 2048.
Unprecedented Shark Threat
Our apex predators are under severe threat. One of the most comprehensive studies ever compiled on shark killing estimates that 100 million sharks are killed in fishing lines and nets every year. This estimate includes the the vast number killed to supply the shark fin industry. Because of their late maturity, slow growth and low reproductive rates, these depletion rates far exceed what the shark populations would need to recover.
New research shows that the removal of sharks may contribute to climate change by leaving the unchecked numbers of species to feast on the ocean’s vegetation, releasing the ancient carbon found there in massive quantities. Sharks actually protect us from climate change and the decimation of their populations will have a catastrophic effect on the environment.
Global total shark mortality, therefore, needs to be reduced drastically in order to rebuild depleted populations and restore marine ecosystems with functional top predators.
Farm Waste Does Not Stay on the Farms
In addition to the direct deaths in our oceans, the waste runoff from agriculture causes ocean dead zones - oxygen deprived areas that no animal or plant life can survive, causing all marine life in these areas to either die or flee. The largest dead zone in the world is in the Gulf of Mexico and in 2017 has been measured at 8776 square miles.
The Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone is believed to be produced by the highly industrialized factory farm systems in the Midwest causing toxins from manure and fertiliser to pour into waterways, which eventually reach the Ocean.
Today, there are more than 500 such dead zones in our oceans around the world.
Cow Farts Affect The Sea
Did you know that animal agriculture is responsible for producing more greenhouse gases than all forms global transportation, including all cars, boats, trains and planes combined?
Livestock and their by-products release at least 32,billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into our atmosphere every year.
Other than Carbon Dioxide, animal agriculture also produces 2 other deadly greenhouse gases.
Firstly, cows produce Methane when they burp and pass gas. Cows in our world today are producing 150 billion gallons of methane, every single day.
Methane has 72 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and the livestock sector is responsible for about 37% of global methane emissions.
The other greenhouse gas produced by animal agriculture is Nitrous Oxide.
Nitrous Oxide is a greenhouse gas with 289 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and the livestock sector is responsible for 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions.
So what does this have to do with the Ocean?
Well, as a primary driver of global warming, animal agriculture is directly affecting our oceans in 2 ways:
Firstly, the rising atmospheric temperature caused by global warming are in turn causing the global sea temperatures to rise. This is leading to widespread global coral bleaching and large-scale coral reef die-off.
Coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea,” are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth, they occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor and yet are home to more than a quarter of all marine species.
According to a report by the World Resources Institute, if we continue with business as usual, 90% of coral reefs will be in danger by 2030, and nearly all of them by 2050.
Secondly, the excessive carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is increasing our oceans acidity, which has been proven to reduce the ability of marine animals to produce their skeletons and shells.
The Simplest, Most Impactful, Direct Way to Protect Our Oceans
Whilst these statistics and facts may be disturbing, the point of this article is to share what is a little known but massively impactful solution!
Each one of us can manifest change.
When we love something or someone, our first instinct is to protect the thing we love.
What if you could do something, 3 times a day at least, that significantly, directly, effectively protects the Ocean?
Changing what we eat is exactly that – it is possibly the most powerful, protective personal strategy for our Oceans.
And it’s a strategy we can implement overnight. It doesn’t rely on anyone else. It’s a choice each one of us has the capacity to make and action immediately.
By eating a plant-based diet, we can cut our carbon footprint (and directly reduce ocean acidification, therefore protecting the coral reefs of the world) by an incredible 50%.
By eating a plant-based diet, we will no longer support the extensive loss of life in our oceans – in fact, by eating a vegan diet, we can save at least 1 animals life every single day.
Plant Based Living 101…
If the idea of adopting a plant based diet is daunting and overwhelming, do not fear. Help is here!
We have created “How To” guided program which summarises the simple steps we need to take in order to start living a vegan lifestyle; making the transition easy, stress-free, fun and interesting!
Consider it as having your own Personal Vegan Guide. You can do it at your own pace. In the comfort of your own home. Knowledge is Power.
Find out exactly how to transition to this healthy and increasingly popular lifestyle, please watch our FREE 3-part video series on Plant-Based Nutrition.
The medical and/or nutritional information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek medical advice before using diet to treat disease.