‘Tis the season of giving. While making your list of gifts to give this year, why not consider a gift to the environment? Making the choice to add more organic plant-based foods to your diet could be the best gift you give the planet this holiday season. With each meatless meal you choose you will be helping to protect our forests, oceans and clean air while curbing climate change and conserving water. Learn why eating your greens is better for the earth this holiday season and throughout the year.
Plant-Based Foods Wreak Less Havoc on Forests
Deforestation is occurring at an alarming rate with swaths of forest the size of Panama disappearing each year. While there are many causes of deforestation, livestock are one of the major drivers, causing the clearing of forests for new pasture space as well as to grow crops such as soybeans and cereals to feed livestock. Nearly 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is said to be due to cattle ranching and rainforests are vanishing quickly.
National Geographic estimates that the world’s rainforests could disappear in the next 100 years because of human intervention. Cutting down trees is no small matter. For starters, trees create the air we breathe with the rainforest producing 20 percent of the earth’s oxygen. Deforestation also destroys habitats 70 percent of earth’s land animals and plants that live in forests. And climate change? Deforestation contributes to that too. When we clear forests for cattle we end up with more carbon in the atmosphere and less trees to absorb greenhouse gases.
Fruits and Veggies Make Less Gas – Greenhouse Gas That Is
Livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to the UN, cattle rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent than transportation. But that’s not the only way your holiday roast is warming the earth. Methane is even worse. The comparative impact of methane on climate change is 25 times greater than carbon dioxide. A dairy cow can produce enough methane to power a small fridge for a day.
Eating More Greens Means Less Air and Water Pollution
Meat and dairy production is big business and big contributors to pollution. On most factory farms, animals are crowded into relatively small areas. Their waste is funneled into massive waste lagoons that often break, leak or overflow, sending dangerous microbes, nitrate pollution and drug-resistant bacteria into water supplies. The Environmental Working Group estimates that growing livestock feed in the U.S. uses 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year. Oh and antibiotics and hormones? Guess where they end up? In 2002, in the National Water Quality Inventory report to U.S. Congress, the states reported that agricultural nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is the leading cause of river and stream impairment and the second leading cause of impairment in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.
Plants Use Less Water
We call this planet earth but perhaps it would be more accurate to call it planet ocean as 97 percent of the earth’s water can be found in the oceans. So we do our best to conserve freshwater where we can. Swapping meat for plant-based protein is one way to shrink your water footprint. One pound of beef uses 1,799 gallons of water. Compare that to 216 gallons of water to create a pound of soybeans. Making just a few changes to your plate can significantly reduce your water usage – in fact, we can all save 162,486 gallons of water annually by simply leaving meat and dairy out of the picture.
A Plant Based Diet Gives Back
Regardless of what holiday(s) you celebrate this time of year. We all embrace the notion of giving back to the ones we love. The planet gives us everything we need to live on a daily basis and a place to call home. What’s not to love about that? A U.N. report recommends a “substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products” to reduce the negative impacts on our environment. Let the change start with you and we can all give back to the planet this year.
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. Join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet movement and start thanking the planet with your next meal!
Click on the graphic below for more information
Lead image source: JD Hancock/Flickr