When many people think about going vegan or vegetarian or even adopting Meatless Mondays into their weekly meal schedule, the tendency is to do so for health reasons and/or for the ethical treatment of animals. To be honest, those are the reasons why I avoid meat. Then one day I started reading more about the environmental effects of farming and consuming animal products, and I have to say, I was shocked by some of the facts that are often easier to brush under the tablecloth because we don’t think they directly impact us (at least I didn’t). What I learned was that recycling and using eco-friendly products is great (no one’s going to deny that), but so is reducing our meat consumption. Here’s why.
1. It can reduce climate change. Animal farming is a huge contributor to climate change in the world. In fact, the carbon footprint of all of our cars, trucks, buses, trains and planes combined is only half as bad for our planet as animal farming. Livestock is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and almost two-thirds of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.
2. It helps preserve our natural resources. Livestock accounts for 8% of the planet’s water use, mainly for irrigation of feedcrops. In addition, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, compared to only 25 gallons to produce a pound of grain, and 70% of the grain grown in our country is used for producing meat. By comparison, nearly one billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water.
3. It reduces waste production. Animal waste is a major contributor to pollution on our planet. Did you know that, according to the EPA, a single dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of wet manure per day, which is equivalent to the waste produced by 20 to 40 people. That means California’s 1.4 million dairy cows produce as much waste as 28 to 56 million people.
4. It preserves our land. Animal farms are a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the largest amount of deforestation is occurring. In the Amazon, 70% of the land is now occupied by pastures and feedcrops.
Still not convinced? Or maybe you’re left wondering what going meatless just one day a week can really do for our planet? There is an interesting study that revealed the true math behind Meatless Mondays and the effect it can have. For instance, did you know that you personally could save the planet 890 gallons of water a week simply by forgoing meat once a week?