Without a doubt, industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our current environmental crisis. Understandably, this might be a shocking statement, but if you take a step back and look at all the resources used just to make our cheeseburgers possible, you will surely agree. Let’s dive into this a bit.

Globally, 45 percent of arable land that could be used to grow fresh produce is instead dedicated to the global livestock system and 33 percent of that land is used to grow their food. On top of that 27 percent of global freshwater supplies are needed in order to grow food for livestock. And… the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 14.5 percent of global emissions are produced by animal agriculture, though some sources estimate that the number may be as high as 51 percent.

Making matters even worse, in the United States, we are living under the rule of a White House administration that is not only dominated by climate change deniers, but also a president who has promised to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, an action that we cannot afford if we are to protect the planet from further destruction.

But, what if we told you that we could protect the planet just by making one simple switch in our day-to-day lives? The solution lies with the food that we choose to eat. By leaving meat and dairy off our plates, we are participating in one of the most effective methods of combating climate change. How?

Let’s also take a look at the impact behind one of the most ubiquitous of American foods: the hamburger. According to a recently released sustainability report by plant-based food company Impossible Foods, we use between 20.5-23.5 gallons of water, between 83-251 square feet of land for growing and raising feed crop, and emit between 2.3-7.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions in order to produce just one beef patty. Meanwhile, the impact of their premier product, the Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger that looks, cooks, tastes, and even “bleeds” like a real burger, is significantly lower.

Compared to a traditional beef patty, the Impossible Burger uses 75 percent less water, 95 percent less land, and produces 87 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the next 30 years, the worldwide demand for meat is expected to increase by 60-70 percent. Knowing the facts behind the destructive nature of the animal agriculture, this is certainly a scary statistic, but with new innovations in the plant-based food space that bring vegan meat closer to the “real thing” than ever before, we could potentially help feed the growing demand for “meat” … without feeding an environmental crisis.

At their new production facility in Oakland, California, Impossible Foods hopes to increase production of the Impossible Burger to one million pounds per month, a move that could very lead to more people than ever before choosing a plant-based burger over a traditional beef patty.

Additionally, the Beyond Burger, another new, plant-based burger whose taste and texture are on par with the real thing, is the first vegan burger to ever be sold alongside meat in the grocery store, offering customers who are craving a burger a simple choice: a sustainable plant-based option that is practically indistinguishable from the real thing or the product of an outdated model of producing food.

Any way you look at it, the choice to cut back on meat, dairy, and eggs and include more plant-based foods in your diet is better for the planet.

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

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.

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Lead image source: Impossible Foods