What we eat matters: our food choices have a major impact on the planet. According to a United Nation’s report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other animals for food contributes nearly one-fifth (18%) of all global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers from the University of Chicago report that when all levels of production are factored in from livestock crop production to shipping animals to slaughter a vegetarian diet is the most energy efficient, and the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by not eating meat, eggs, and dairy than by switching to a hybrid car.
Additionally, Carnegie Mellon University researchers found that we can do more for the planet by going vegetarian even just one day per week than by switching to a totally local diet.
Raising animals for food is one of the leading causes of both pollution and resource depletion today. It also takes more land, water, and energy to produce meat than it does to grow foods for a vegetarian diet. Eating plants directly is more efficient than growing and harvesting them in order to funnel them through farmed animals.
A 2007 journal published by the American Dietetic Association states that researchers found “meat protein production required 26 times more water than vegetable protein on rain-fed lands.”
The journal further states that dieticians “can encourage eating that is both healthful and conserving of soil, water, and energy by emphasizing plant sources of protein and foods that have been produced with fewer agricultural inputs.”
Raising animals food is also responsible for causing tremendous amounts of animal suffering. Every year in the U.S., more than 10 billion birds, pigs, and cows are killed for us to eat. Without adequate laws to protect them, farmed animals are routinely subjected to practices so cruel, it would likely lead to criminal prosecution if those same abuses were inflicted upon the dogs and cats with whom we share our homes.
“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”undefinedUnited Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization
Making a difference. Every time we sit down to eat, each of us can help make the world a better place simply by leaving animals off our plates.
1 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006. “Livestock’s Long
Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/
2 Eshel, Gidon and Martin, Pamela. 2005. “Diet Energy and Global Warming.” University
of Chicago. http://geosci.uchicago.edu/%7Egidon/papers/nutri/nutriEI.pdf
3 Weber, Christopher L. and Matthews, H. Scott, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2008, http://
4 American Dietetic Association. 2007. Position of the American Dietetic Association:
Food and Nutrition Professionals Can Implement Practices to Conserve Natural
Resources and Support Ecological Sustainability. Journal of the American Dietetic
Association 107: 1033-43
6 Food and Agriculture Organization, op. cit.
7 Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/region09/animalwaste/problem.html
8 Resolution for a New Millennium, Audubon News. Jan. 2000
9 Food and Agriculture Organization, op. cit.
10 Green Living Guide, Greenpeace. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/
11 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, http://www.usda.gov/nass/PUBS/TODAYRPT/ckeg0308.pdf
12 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/HogsPigs/
13 Report by Minority Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, 1997