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As the debate over how to mitigate the most devastating impacts of climate change swirl, one potential solution remains largely ignored. Unlike calls to implement governmental programs to cut the use of fossil fuels or implement carbon taxes, this solution is one that we can all make happen every single day in the form of what we choose to put on our plates.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of global greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent. But it is also the source of mass deforestation, air and water pollution, in addition to species extinction. So when we choose to consume meat — on a global scale — we have an enormous impact on the world around us.

Given the current predicament we are in that stems from our appetite for meat, we have to stop and wonder if the animal agriculture system is really the most sustainable option.

The Failing of the Livestock System

The FAO projects that by 2080, 577 million tons of meat will be consumed as opposed to the consumption in 2010 of over 300 million tons of meat worldwide. At current rates, we are using one and half Earth’s worth of resources to produce food for the world’s population of seven billion … and around 850 million people still suffer from hunger globally.

Animal agriculture has turned into an industrialized system with the express purpose of feeding more people in a more efficient manner. Factory farms where hundreds of thousands of animals are raised for food are becoming the norm across the world. As of 2007, three-quarters of the world’s chicken supply, half of the pork supply, and two-thirds of eggs came from industrial agricultural settings, or factory farms.

While raising this large number of livestock in a concentrated area may be a more efficient way to use land and space resources, it is only one small part of the problem.

Land Use for Livestock Feed

An estimated 26 percent of land worldwide is used for grazing livestock and 33 percent of land worldwide is used to grow livestock feed. That equals out to about two-thirds of crop land that is used to grow food for livestock – only eight percent of crops are used to feed people directly.

A recent study found that around 80 percent of tropical deforestation stems from agriculture. If the number of livestock needed to meet global food demads rises, then so too will the amount of crops that are required to feed these animals which will inevitably mean more deforestation.

Water Usage

The animal agriculture industry is one of the largest users of freshwater supplies worldwide. Currently, 70 percent of the world’s freshwater resources are used for the agriculture system, about one-third of that is needed just to grow feed crops.

When you factor in the additional water used to hydrate animals and keep factory farm facilities clean, the water footprint of meat becomes colossal. It takes around 576 gallons of water to produce one pound of pork, 468 gallons for chickens, and 1,799 is used for one pound of beef.

These numbers translate into serious water scarcity issues for humans. Some reports estimate that in just 15 years time and half the world’s population could be living in areas of high water stress.

Hope for the Future of Our Food System

One Green Planet believes that our global food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis.

This destructive industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater stores, and drives greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, this system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.

“The real war against climate is being fought on our plates, multiple times a day with every food choice we make,” says Nil Zacharias, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of One Green Planet, ”one of the biggest challenges facing our planet, and our species is that we are knowingly eating ourselves into extinction, and doing very little about it.”

As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.

By choosing to eat more plant-based foods you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. With the wealth of available plant-based options available, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.

When you look at the positive benefits that come with reducing your personal consumption of meat in favor of a plant-based diet, the need for a shift in our eating habits is even more clear.  Studies have shown that eating plant-based can literally half your carbon footprint. Couple this with the fact that one person can save over 162, 486 gallons of water just by leaving meat off their we can see how powerful our diets can be.

Our everyday food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future. Join One Green Planet’s #EatForthePlanet movement.

How to Participate:

1. Choose a plant-based/vegan meal

2. Snap a photo and upload to Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter.

3. Add #EatForThePlanet and @OneGreenPlanet in your update.

Let’s show the world how eating vegan/plant-based has never been easier or more delicious!

Click on the graphic below for more information


Image Source: Greg Goebel/Flickr

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40 comments on “Why Reducing Meat Consumption Is the Easiest Step Everyone Can Take to Fix Our Broken Food System”

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1 Years Ago

We do not need more meat period. That has no basis to it. What we need to do is quit taking for granted the animals we slaughter by the thousands daily and in cruel, mis-managed plants to boot. We need to take a look at eating better - other food than meat period... This must have put out by the big cattle ranchers! Most of our health problems stem from meat. If we need the water so bad, why are we replacing horses with cattle.. it is basically BS. I would rather have the horses and utilize the birth control developed by a Montana pharmacist and wean the herds down. One of these days, it will be the human animals turn. They will cry and wonder why.....

1 Years Ago

To TED C, the omnivore who believes "We have every right to nourish ourselves from the plethora of animals and plants on this planet." So you\'d devour everyone else (on land and in the oceans) just to satisfy your sense of "entitlement"? Why are so many "well-nourished" omnivores suffering from chronic diseases due to the dietary choices they made out of a sense of "entitlement"? Natural omnivores don\'t eat other animals out of a sense of "entitlement." Folks like you who advance the same standard argument are not natural omnivores but manufactured omnivores. Folks like you belong to a cult, the "food chain"cult, designed with meat-eating humans in mind, who feel entitled in positioning themselves at the very top and persecuting any wild predators and wild herbivores who have the gall to "compete" with us and our favorite "food animals." A hungry pride of lions kills and eats an antelope in order to survive. It is not murder with malice aforethought. Manufactured human omnivores, on the other hand, enjoy eating animals killed by other people, out of a sense of "entitlement," not in order to survive. That\'s murder.

john pasqua
1 Years Ago

plant based food now.

1 Years Ago

quit eating this crap years ago to help end the suffering on great animals. plant based foods are great for earth.

Juan Pablo Zúñiga
1 Years Ago

I think people won\'t change unless they are against the wall. I think a carbon tax is in theory one of the most attainable solutions right now, but that wouldn\'t be happening any soon if governments stay as corrupt as they are now. Therefore I think we got to beat the food system in it\'s own game. We got to make vegan food cheaper, tastier and healthier than regular food. Also we gotta give vegan food the same exposure and accessibility as regular food. For example, have you seen the videos posted in sites like www.facebook.com/buzzfeedtasty? I think you should copy that model. Present vegan recipes as they present their recipes. Before following that page I never really cooked anything haha.

Jeffery Biss
1 Years Ago

Meat is murder. The only thing that matters is that we don\'t need meat to sustain life or health and as we consider ourselves moral we are obligated to stop slaughtering victims to satisfy our desire to eat it.

Ted C
26 Feb 2017

Jeffery, that has to be the dumbest comment I have read today. Ok, so according to you a human eating meat is murder. So is a lion eating an antelope murder? How about a whale eating krill? Bird eating an insect? Why do all other animals in the food chain get a pass but for humans it\'s considered murder? Humans are omnivores whether you want to admit it or not. We have every right to nourish ourselves from the plethora of animals and plants on this planet.

1 Years Ago

Why not mention the fact that livestock produces 51% or more of total greenhouse gas emissions in the USA - easily more than every form of transport in that country? Why focus on alternate energy sources as no. 1 issue when livestock is the big killer - on top of that, why is there no mention that livestock is also the no. 1 cause of damage to oceans?? Untreated animal waste flows freely into all oceans - and given there are ?? 3-4 x more livestock than humans, and they shit much greater quantities in and of themselves than humans - why not point this out to the good folks of the planet?? Maybe the fact you can be sued under the US Patriot act if any comment affects profitability of big Agribusiness has something to do with it?? Grows some custard nuts and get the truth out there!!!!

1 Years Ago

Forty two years ago I stopped eating meat/animals just because I did not want to eat them anymore. I knew nothing about the cruelty, environmental effects, or anything else. Down the line I learned and realized that if I was doing this because of my love for animals I had to take the next step and become vegan. It is the best decision I ever made. I can not be part of a system that causes such suffering to animals and the planet. When people were first here they took what they needed like the rest of the animals but now there are these factory farms-what a euphemism as they are more like concentration camp- which are loathsome. I diggers though. I am glad I became vegan for all reasons that are important-the animals and our planet.
Fayeannette, what land do you live in? Buffalo are meat and it is no different than eating cows, chickens, dogs, or an other being.

Seth Tyrssen
25 Feb 2017

Bravo, Kate. I got started on this path rather late in life; but I\'m getting there.

Kevin Siever
2 Years Ago

Here's something for everyone to ponder over their favourite alcoholic beverage or driving their car that burns partly biodiesel or ethanol.if everyone on this continent went vegan what would we do with the millions and millions of tons of feed grains grown every year and the brewers grain created by the brewing industry what should we do with that as it would be fed to hogs and cattle for the meat industry? I don't think everyone realizes the impact of vegan lifestyle in the gigantic picture of the world.im not saying this is a pretty picture but unfortunately we WANT to drive cars drink alcohol live in houses with air conditioning, heat and electricity all these luxiouries pollute for the most part it isn't NEEDED so how do we curb that appetite?

Keeley Waters
2 Years Ago

Um No, it's getting the GMO'S and other shit out of our food, gee let's start there!


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