Help the Environment Just By Cutting Out this One Thing From Your Diet!

beef dish on platter

[sam_ad id=”83″ codes=”true”]The average American eats 40% percent less beef now than they did in the peak consumption in 1976.

However, in 1976 the population of the U.S. was only 218 million. Today, it stands at 317 million and Americans are still eating too much beef. In fact, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer and producer of beef.

Today, those who are anti-meat aren’t just rallying about animal cruelty – they’re also petitioning for a healthier environment as meat consumption contributes hugely to global warming and environmental degradation. It’s estimated that 14.5% of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.

That is more than the emissions that come from all forms of transportation.

Out of that percentage, beef alone makes up 41% of those emissions.

 

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Beef’s HUGE Footprint

Beef cattle production accounts for almost 90% of the land used for raising livestock in the U.S. This figure includes acreage that includes pasture as well as cropland for growing feed.

Last year, Brazil reported a 28% increase in Amazonian deforestation – 80% of deforested land in Brazil is used for cattle farming.

The result is a huge loss of biodiversity.

feed
Graph via Sarah Burke

Feed

The amount of feed that’s needed to raise cattle is more than three times that needed of its closer competitor: Pork.

average feed in 1,000s of calories to produce 1,000 calories by humans
Graph via Sarah Burke

Water

Even if we were to combine the numbers from the other groups, beef still uses three times the amount of water than they do.

Gallons of irrigation water to produce 1,000 calories consumed by humans
Graph via Sarah Burke

Greenhouse gases

Cattle’s specialised stomachs release dangerous gasses, such as methane, when the cow burps. Greenhouse gases from cattle production are 40% methane.

 

Average kg of CO2 equivalent generated in raising 1,000 calories consumed by humans
Graph via Sarah Burke

 

The Health Benefits of Reducing Your Meat Intake

person standing in sunlight
Photo by Jean Henrique Wichinoski

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Reducing meat consumption is a growing trend, with the term “flexitarian” being used for those who are reducing their intake of meat, while not necessarily forgoing it altogether.

In 1971, only 1% of U.S. citizens described themselves as vegetarians, while a 2013 Public Policy Polling found 13% of Americans identify as vegetarian (6%) or vegan (7%).

The reasons for the switch are a mix between health and environmental considerations.

In a 2009 study published by the American Diabetes Association, meat-eaters had an average body mass index of 28.8, well above the upper limit of 25.0 that’s considered healthy by medical practitioners.  However, people who avoided animal products had an average BMI of 23.6.

 

A Little Goes A Long Way

[sam_ad id=”80″ codes=”true”]Making the switch from meat-loving carnivore to that of vegetarian or vegan may be difficult, but that’s not necessarily the only way you can help make a difference.

The reality is, if we all did a little bit to reduce our footprint, we could make a huge environmental impact on the world, with every little effort on our part.

Follow in the footsteps of the Norwegian military who announced it is switching to a one-day-a-week vegetarian diet (like “Meatless Mondays”) in a move to combat global warming, and just make one of your days during the week vegetarian. Try new non-meat alternatives, you might even like them!

(I recommend the veggie mince by YVES as a replacement for your weekly minced beef spaghetti bolognese as a start!)

For more inspiration, check out Greener Ideal’s own selection of “homegrown” recipes!

If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian – or you just want some more information on reducing your consumption of meat, please leave a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!