Environmental Benefits of Reduced Meat Consumption

Friday, January 13, 2012

Skip the Burger, Save the Earth :-)
Eating Less Meat Can Help Preserve Our Planet

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry generates 1/5 of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. All livestock greatly contribute to CO2 emissions through their respiratory processes, but also of monumental concern is methane gas (CH4) emissions from their digestive processes. Methane gas is 21 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. With nearly 1.5 billion large ruminants like cows world-wide, both carbon dioxide and methane gas are being emitted into the atmosphere at astounding rates. These rates have been decreasing lately, but are still much higher than our Earth can continue to support, while remain a healthy environment for us.[1]

The water needs of livestock are tremendous, greatly exceeding those of vegetables or grains It takes 1,800 - 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of grain fed beef. With that same amount water, farmers could grow 16 pounds of broccoli, 25 pounds of potatoes, enough soybeans for three pounds of tofu or enough wheat for nearly five pounds of whole wheat bread.[2]

On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.[3]

Cattle ranching is the largest impetus behind the destruction of the Amazon Rain Forest with deforestation occurring at an alarming rate. From May 20000 to August 2006 alone, Brazil lost nearly 58,000 square miles of forest—an area larger than Greece.[4]

Learn More:
Meatless Monday
Health Benefits of Reduced Meat Consumption
Beef Consumption at 50 Year Low

[1] http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
[2] http://www.sierraclub.org/sustainable_consumption/toolkit/choosing.pdf
[3] http://www.meatlessmonday.com/why-meatless/
[4] http://www.mongabay.com/brazil.html


Small Footprints said...

Fabulous post! I have long believed that eating meatless meals is one of the easiest, if not THE easiest, ways to live a "greener" life. Even switching to one plant-based meal a week has a huge environmental benefit. I used to be a devout meat eater but then switched to a vegan diet. I can, in all honesty, say that it hasn't been hard at all. The recipe choices are endless ... something that I didn't find to be true with meat-based meals. It's good for our health and good for the planet ... a total win-win situation! I'm your newest follower ... so glad to have found you! :-)

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