A Meaty Question

What if I told you that with one small lifestyle change, you could cut more greenhouse gas emissions than if you stopped driving your car entirely? Or that if every American made a slightly different choice just one day a week, it could decrease global emissions by between 15 and 50 percent?

Wouldn’t you want to make that change?

All you have to do is cut meat and cheese out of your diet one day a week.

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What makes meat so harmful to the environment?

Per The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Raising animals to eat produces more greenhouse gases (via methane and nitrous oxide) than all of the carbon dioxide excreted by automobiles, boats, planes and trains in the world combined.

CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) explains other impacts of industrial farming: Besides the methane and nitrous oxide released during livestock production, industrialized livestock contributes to roughly 75% of deforestation through the creation of grazing grounds for animals and the use of land to grow soybeans used in feedstock.

And don’t get me started on the enormous amount of water required in food production.
Check out the United States Geological Survey website and see if you can predict the gallons of water that go into just one pound of chicken or a single hamburger. Think you know the answer? Think again:

  • Bread (1lb) = 200 gallons
  • Chicken (1lb) = 500 gallons
  • Coffee (1c) = 35 gallons
  • Corn (1lb) = 110 gallons
  • Egg (1) = 50 gallons
  • Hamburger (.25lb) = 460 gallons

 

But it’s okay- you can reduce your environmental impact.

Check out these facts from the Environmental Working Group:

  • If you eat one less burger a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles or line-drying your clothes half the time.
  • If your four-person family skips meat and cheese one day a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for five weeks – or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes.
  • If your four-person family skips steak once a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for nearly three months.
  • If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.

So it’s up to you now: will you make the change?


For more reading on the subject of meat’s environmental impact, check out these articles from The Guardian:
Eat less meat to prevent climate disaster, study warns
Want to have a real impact on climate change? Then become a vegetarian

 

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