Cutting Down Meat Production Can Make the Planet Healthier and Save Energy
- Aug 20, 2019 1:22 pm GMT
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According to environmental researcher Gidon Eshel, if the whole country stopped eating meat, it would be like taking 60 million cars off the streets. This number is outstanding, so it’s definitely worth crunching the numbers on this hypothetical.
The farming and meat industries are gargantuan. What many of us don't know is that these two industries combined are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans. Meanwhile, our food system as a whole is accountable for 37% of these greenhouse emissions.
This means that if we opted for a more plant-based diet, it would decrease meat production, which would mean less carbon dioxide emissions. It will also cut down the amount of land that’s currently being used for livestock farming, which is obviously substantially.
Many people decide to go on a 100% plant-based diet for many different reasons; one of them is that it greatly reduces your personal impact on the environment. According to the aforementioned research, if we replace animal protein with a vegetarian alternative, we could save about 280 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
What’s more, we could save about 30% of the world’s land, which is currently being deforested and abused by the livestock farming industry. Not to mention we could save water and reduce contamination linked to livestock farming. If the entire US switched to a plant-based diet, 72 million acres of crop land would be saved. Let that sink in…
Of course, crop farming would still take a toll, but it would be a much smaller one. For one, it takes a lot less land and a lot less fertilizer. It also emits 80% less carbon dioxide than meat production, so I’d say it’s a great trade-off.
Switching to a plant-based diet doesn’t only have benefits for the planet; it also has many benefits for our health as well. Plus, they’re coming up with more and more incredible synthetic alternatives for meat. Once the taste and flavor reach parity, we won’t miss it.
Take Impossible Foods, for example. They’re one of the leading producers of plant-based food, and their Impossible Burger patties are used in over 7,000 restaurants around the world. Even Burger King will start using their vegan patties, which look and taste delicious, according to a bevy of online food critics.
Other alternatives to meat are abundant, and they continue to be developed as people realize not only that a plant-based diet is better for the environment but also that you can actually live without meat. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger has made the switch.
You don’t have to abandon meat altogether if you don’t want to. But even having a meatless day or two each week is a helpful contribution to the environment and to the billions of animals that are sacrificed every day for our sustenance.
Realizing that your diet has such a huge impact on the environment may be a shock, I know. But the more you know, the better. Knowledge is what allows you to make a difference—even if it’s just a bite-sized one!