Want to do something really great for the environment tonight? Try swapping out your normal burger or steak dinner for a meat-free alternative. By reducing your meat intake, you are also reducing the use of fossil fuels, rainforest depetion and pollution to our water and oceans as well. Here are some not so obvious links between meat consumption and the environment:
Think of all the energy required to produce crops to feed the animals, to harvest and transport grains from crops to feedlots, then trasport the animals from feedlots to slaughterhouse, then trasport the carcasses trucked in refrigerated trucks to another processing plant before it is transported to a grocery store. It has been estimated that more than a third of all fossil fuels in the US are utilized for animal agriculture. The production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuels as a calorie of plant protein, and ten times the amount of CO2 is emitted as well.
A vegan diet reduces more emissionsthan driving a hybrid car! You could drive a car twenty miles with the energy needed to produce a single hamburger. It has been estimated that driving a hybrid conserves over a ton of carbon dioxide per year. A vegan diet consumes one and a half tons less than the average American diet.
Animal production consumes as much water as all other uses of water in the US combined. One pound of beef requires approximately 2500 gallons of water, whereas a pound of soy requires 250 gallons of water and a pound of wheat only 25 gallons.
The pesticides and nitrates used in fertilizers and manures seep into our groundwater and spill out into our oceans. Expansive areas known as “Dead zones”are created where the water is too toxic for any plant or animal to survive. You can see these dead zones from space in places including where the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.
Every sixty seconds, a land area equivalent to seven football fields is destroyed in the Amazon. Every year, The United States imports about 200 million pounds of beef from Central America, where each burger requires the destruction of 55 square feet of rainfoest. Here in the US, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture , and we can only expect more deforestation in the future.
We’re not suggesting that you eliminate animal products from your diet altogether, especially not without consulting your doctor first. Certainly a vegan or vegetarian diet is not right for everybody, but ocassionally ordering that baked potato and salad instead of the burger and fries can vastly reduce your personal carbon footprint and may help to better your overall health in the process.