Did you know that meat production is worse for the environment than all forms of transportation combined? In 2006, the UN calculated that the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18% of the global total. That’s more than cars, planes and other forms of transportation combined.
When cows eat they release methane into the air which plays a huge role in the negative impacts meat production has on the environment… along with the gas their manure releases, the oil burned transporting their carcasses to be disposed of, the electricity needed to keep the meat cool, gas used to cook it, the energy needed to harvest the fields that grow the crops that the animals eat, and so on. Meat production also takes up immense amounts of land capacity. 30% of the available ice-free surface areas of the planet are being used for livestock, or for feeding animals being raised for slaughter. Millions of people in the world go hungry everyday… however, majority of our crops are being fed to animals that are being raised to be consumed.
People are consuming more meat then ever before… Meat has always been an important part of heritage and identity. Many people learn to cook with meat and it has always been the most important part of every meal. But with all the research conducted and information available on the negative effects meat has on our bodies and on the environment, this trend is changing.
If you’re looking to go green and decrease your carbon footprint, eating less meat is a great start. This doesn’t mean you have to be a vegetarian or vegan, but even just eating meat a few days a week instead of everyday or not eating red meat, can make a huge difference. Studies show that heavy meat eaters have a carbon footprint of approximately 15.8 CO2-eq per day, low meat eaters have a footprint of approximately 10.3 CO2-eq per day, vegetarian’s footprint is approximately 8.4 and vegan’s is 6.4. These stats show the major difference between heavy meat consumption and low meat consumption. If you’re not ready to give up steak entirely, just cutting back can shrink the footprint of your diet by one-third.
Many people may fear they won’t get the nutrients and proteins they need in a reduced meat diet, however there are many other ways to consume protein. Eggs are a high protein source and are easy to add to any meal. Eggs are often eaten as a breakfast food but are also good in salads and rice dishes, or even on sandwiches and burgers. Some other protein sources that are easy to adapt into recipes include quinoa, buckwheat, soy products, greek yogurt, tofu, beans, chickpeas, nuts, edamame, lentils, and oats.
So what would happen if the entire world reduced its meat consumption? The impacts on global warming could change by 0.5 degrees Celsius or more. Shifting to a more plant-based diet is essential to combatting climate change, soil, air and water pollution, ocean dead zones, and other environmental problems caused by industrial livestock production. If we decide to eat fewer meals with meat or dairy each week, we can have a huge impact on the health of our bodies and the planet!