New research published in sustainability outlet Frontiers in Nutrition revealed that shifting to a plant-based diet is essential to achieving global phosphorus stability. The comprehensive study—led by researcher Geneviève S. Metson of the University of Technology, Sydney—found that switching to a vegan diet would slash demand for mined phosphorus by 44-percent in the United States. Phosphorus is a limited mineral resource that is primarily mined to be used in fertilizer for feed grown to support animal agriculture. The side effects of removing it from the ground include severe degradation of drinkable water, as well as toxic runoff—which causes impairment of fish habitats and growth of harmful algal blooms. “Consumer choices about food can affect farming practices, which in turn affect fertilizer demand as well as phosphorus losses,” the report states, before concluding that “shifting toward a more plant-based diet … can have a large impact on the demand for mined phosphorus.” In addition to emitting more greenhouse gasses than all transportation combined, as this research shows, animal agriculture is responsible for the dangers associated with the depletion of phosphorus stores—evidenced by a massive toxic sinkhole created by fertilizer company Mosaic, which appeared in Florida in September.
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