We are long overdue to have a serious discussion about industrialized animal agriculture. This destructive industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater stores, and drives more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined. This system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, despite all of the resources used and pollution created, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.

Long story short, saying that the animal agriculture industry is unsustainable is an understatement. And now we have yet more research that confirms just how bad it is.

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GRAIN, an international non-profit that works to support small farmers, estimated for the first time ever the emissions from livestock using methodology created by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Their research found some shocking facts. JBS, Cargill and Tyson, three top meat companies, emitted more greenhouse gases last year THAN ALL OF FRANCE! The meat companies also emitted nearly as much as some of the big oil companies, like Exxon, BP, and Shell.

GRAIN also estimates that the top 20 meat and dairy companies worldwide emitted more gases in 2016 than all of Germany, which is Europe’s biggest climate polluter. If all these meat and dairy companies were a country, they would be the 7th largest greenhouse gas emitter. GRAIN published the estimates just ahead of the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany, where the destructive meat and dairy industries will try to spin a different story.

While you may feel powerless going up against huge meat and dairy giants, you can make a difference starting with your plate. Knowing all that we do about the impact of meat consumption on the environment and animals, we are faced with a choice – either we can continue to be sold into this destructive industry – or we can choose better.

You can start eating for the planet by doing nothing more than choosing a delicious plant-based meal over one laden with animal products. If you look at it from a personal perspective, you can cut your own carbon footprint in half just by leaving meat off your plate for one year. (Plus save a lot of water, redirect grain for people to eat, and help protect endangered species…)

You can #EatForThePlanet starting today. Just follow the three simple steps below.

1. Moderate: Limit consumption of your favorite meats like beef, lamb, pork, etc.

2. Replace: Try to swap animal-based products in your daily diet with vegan alternatives (milk, butter, mayo, cheese, grilled chicken, beef crumbles, sausages, cold cuts, etc.)

3. Embrace: Add plant-based whole foods (local and organic when possible) to your diet like greens, fresh fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, plant proteins like lentils, nuts/seeds, beans, tofu, etc.

As Nil Zacharias, the co-founder of One Green Planet says, “Eat in a way that nourishes you without starving the planet.”

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We all have the power to create a better future for our children, and the countless animals we share the planet with, by making one easy swap. If you’re ready to start doing this in your own life, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

Image Source: STS Schweizer Tierschutz/Flickr