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A new report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund found that the average European Union citizen consumes a whopping 135 pounds of soy a year! While this amount of soy is astounding, what is more so is the fact that the majority of the soy that EU citizens consumed was actually “embedded” from animal products.

Most people don’t realize that the majority of soy grown around the world does not become tofu or soy milk but is used for livestock feed. In fact, a total of 71 percent of the 284 million tons of soy grown across the world is fed to livestock, only around six percent of soy is directly eaten by people. So how much soy are people really consuming when they eat meat and animal products?

According to the report, there are about 109 hidden grams of soy in every 100 grams of chicken breast, 35 grams of soy for every 55 grams of eggs, 59 grams of soy in 100 grams of salmon steak, and 46 grams of soy in 100 grams of hamburger.

Most consumers have no idea that the majority of animals in the agriculture system are fed a diet composed predominantly of soy and corn. These foods aren’t exactly the “natural” diet that a chicken, cow or salmon would eat, but it is incredibly cheap and helps livestock reach market weight more quickly. But consumers are also in the dark about how much environmental destruction is caused in the process of growing all this soy to feed the food we eat.

The majority of the world’s soy is grown South America, predominantly in the Brazilian Cerrado region, Amazon Rainforest, Gran Chaco, and the Atlantic Forest of South America. Unfortunately, these regions also happen to home to thousands of endemic animal species and, well, entire rainforest ecosystems. But alas, soy can’t grow in the thicket of the rainforest, so mass deforestation has taken place to make way for soy plantation. To give you an idea of how serious this deforestation issue is: globally, soy plantations cover an area the same size of France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands combined!

Understandably, soy has gotten quite the bad reputation for being an incredibly destructive crop, but very few people make the connection between soy deforestation and the meat on their plates. By lowering (or completely eliminating) your personal consumption of animal products you can help to drive down deforestation rates – drastically. A study conducted by WWF Germany found that if every German citizen lowered their consumption of animal products just to be in accordance with the country’s dietary guidelines, they could decrease the amount of land designated for soy plantations by 1.8 million hectares.

Just imagine how much South American rainforest could be preserved if everyone in the U.S. cut back on their consumption of meat! Join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign to learn more about how you can make more sustainable food choices. Who knew ending environmental destruction could be so tasty?!

To learn more about hidden soy and its impact on the planet, check out WWF’s interactive graphic, here.

Image source: Telegraph.uk

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