The Water Crisis and How Vegans Help

One of Jon Stewart’s recent guests on The Daily Show wasn’t laughing. Robert Glennon, a professor of law and public policy at The University of Arizona and the author of Unquenchable, used his moment on national television to stress the severity of the global water crisis. Although it is difficult for many of us living in the United States, Canada, and the UK to imagine fresh water as a finite resource, the water crisis is already a stark reality for people living in developing nations. Did you know that taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day? Currently, more than 3.5 million people die each year from water related diseases and young children account for 88% of these deaths.

Many people cannot comprehend how a water crisis exists when approximately 70% of the earth is covered by ocean. The answer lies in the fact that less than 1% of the world’s water is fresh, safe, and ready for human use. While clean tech companies like Porifera and Aquaporin are working towards developing technology to make the desalination process more energy and cost efficient, these applications are not yet ready for mass use and distilling ocean salt water to solve the crisis expediently is not a viable option.

The water crisis is beginning to noticeably impact first world nations and, according to Robert Glennon and other preeminent researchers, water conservation is the best way to aid drought ridden areas like California, Arizona, and Nevada. While you can start saving water by making small changes, like running the garbage disposal less frequently and installing efficient showerheads, one of the best ways to conserve water is by adopting a vegan diet. Vegans’ contribution to water conservation is best explained in Peter H. Gleick’s Scientific American article entitled Making Every Drop Count. Gleick writes:

“Growing a pound of corn can take between 100 and 250 gallons of water, depending on soil and climate conditions and irrigation methods. But growing the grain to produce a pound of beef can require between 2,000 and 8,500 gallons. We can conserve water not only by altering how we choose to grow our food but also by changing what we choose to eat.”

For more information about how a vegan diet saves water, please visit http://www.waterfootprint.org. This website offers a quick calculator feature that you can use to figure out your annual water footprint. You will be amazed at the difference between a vegan’s water footprint and an omnivore’s water footprint!