It’s Earth Day! If you’re serious about saving the planet, there’s one simple choice you can make.
While recycling, walking to work, taking short showers, and using energy-efficient lights are important and worthwhile steps, they pale in comparison to the impact you can make by changing the way you eat. Eating plant-based foods rather than meat, eggs, and dairy products is the best way to help halt climate change and conserve resources. The following are 22 reasons to eat green on Earth Day and every other day:
- Researchers from Loma Linda University have found that vegans have the smallest carbon footprint, generating 41.7 percent fewer greenhouse gasses than meat-eaters and 13.9 percent fewer than vegetarians.
- According to NationalGeographic.com, the average vegan indirectly consumes nearly 600 fewer gallons of water a day than someone who eats the typical meat- and cheese-laden American diet.
- Overall, it takes about 11 times fewer fossil fuels to produce a gram of plant protein than it does to produce a gram of animal protein.
- An Environmental Working Group study shows that 59.6 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane are produced for every 2.2 pounds of beef. Almost 30 pounds of CO2 are produced for every 2.2 pounds of cheese—a worrisome thought considering that the average American eats more than 31 pounds of cheese a year.
- In The End of Food, author Paul Roberts points out that it takes 20 pounds of grain to make a single pound of beef, 7.3 pounds of grain to produce a pound of pork, and 4.5 pounds of grain to make a pound of chicken meat. That’s grain that could be fed to hungry, malnourished people.
- The U.K. hunger charity Vegfam estimates that a 10-acre farm could support 60 people by growing soy, 24 people by growing wheat, or 10 people by growing corn—but only two by raising cattle.
- According to researchers from the University of California–Riverside, cooking just one charbroiled burger causes as much pollution as driving an 18-wheeler for 143 miles.
- Chris Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, says that “[s]witching to no red meat and no dairy products is the equivalent of (cutting out) 8,100 miles driven in a car … that gets 25 miles to the gallon.” Weber asserts that people can have a bigger impact on the climate by not eating meat and dairy products one day a week than by buying local every single day of the year.
- Animals raised for food produce considerably more excrement than the entire U.S. human population—89,000 pounds of waste per second.
- A single cow on a dairy farm can produce 140 pounds of manure a day.
- According to the Pew Environment Group, the 523 million chickens raised and killed each year in Delaware and Maryland alone generate enough waste to fill the dome of the U.S. Capitol about 50 times, or almost once a week.
- Karen Steuer of the Pew Environment Group says that animal manure can be found “in the waters that we depend on for commerce, recreation, and perhaps most importantly drinking.”
- A Duke University Medical Center study shows that people living downwind of pig farms are more likely to suffer from mood disturbances, nausea, headaches, respiratory problems, and other health problems.
- According to the United Nations, “Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring.”
- The Environmental Working Group says that every 2.2 pounds of canned tuna produces 13.4 pounds of greenhouse gasses. Fish farming is not an environmentally friendly option. It can take 3 pounds or more of wild-caught fish to produce a single pound of farmed salmon.
- Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman says that the “world’s supersized appetite for meat” is one of the main reasons why greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing rapidly.
- The sheer number of farmed animals killed for food in the U.S. alone—approximately 9 billion cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys a year—makes it impossible to raise them all on small organic farms.
- “Humane meat” is an oxymoron. It’s no more humane to raise and slaughter animals for food as long as they’re treated somewhat less cruelly than it is to keep slaves as long as they’re not whipped or beaten.
- Each vegan spares more than 100 animals every year.
- A United Nations report states that a global shift toward a vegan diet is vital if we are to alleviate world hunger, conserve fossil fuels, stop forest destruction, and combat climate change.
- In his “The Future of Food” project, Microsoft chair Bill Gates explains that global meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 and that we must find a more sustainable way to produce food for the 9 billion people who are projected to be on the planet. Gates and Biz Stone, the cofounder of Twitter, are supporting new vegan companies that make affordable eco- and animal-friendly foods that taste great.
- Scientists predict that people will have to go vegetarian by 2050 in order to help counter serious environmental problems.
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