Eat Your Veggies and Save the Planet

How your veggies-only diet can save the planet

Animal agriculture is the third largest contributor to green house emissions, according to a United Nations study. That’s more than the entire transport system of the world! They also have reported that a vegan diet can feed more people than an animal-based one. Estimated projections revealed that the 1992 food supply could have fed about 6.3 billion people on a purely vegetarian diet, 4.2 billion people on an 85% vegetarian diet, or 3.2 billion people on a 75% vegetarian diet. The meat industry, from raising to packaging, has a devastating impact on the environment.

In the United States, 50% of its water is being used to grow crops for grain-fed animals, as opposed to 35% that is used to grow food crops for humans. It takes 15 times as much water to produce the same amount of protein from an animal than we can get from plants. It takes about 23 gallons of water to produce a pound of tomatoes. It takes about 2000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. A ratio of 1/86.96.

Animal waste is the largest source of environmental emissions of nitrous oxide. The livestock sector generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure. It accounts for 37% human-induced methane, 23 times the GWP of CO2, and 64% ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

Rain forests are being levelled for pastures. Less trees means less oxygen. Livestock grazing erodes soil, drying out the land, and making it unsuitable for other types of farming. The amount of livestock raised for human consumption poses a great threat to Earth’s biodiversity as wildlife habitation is being destroyed for use as pastures.

Runoff from cattle farms contains nitrogen, phosphorus, waste-borne pathogens and detergents. This often flows directly into waterways, destroying fish habitats.

The meat industry burns massive amounts of fossil fuels, to run machinery that provide heating, lighting, cooling, slicing, dicing, and packaging. The burning of gasoline and diesel, used to transport animals as well as animal products, also has a massively negative impact on our environment. More than a third of fossil fuels used in the United States are used by animal agriculture.

Research on the amount of fossil fuel needed to cultivate and process various foods, done at the University of Chicago, found that the average American diet that consists of about 28% animal foods generates the equivalent of 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide each year than a comparable vegan diet. Because driving a hybrid car conserves a little over 1 ton of carbon dioxide a year, you could reduce more emissions being a vegan than driving a hybrid car.

All the protein, vitamins and minerals that humans need to survive are easily found in vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grain and grain products. You will lower the risk of cancer and heart disease as well as have lower cholesterol levels. Eat your veggies and save the planet while living a healthier life!

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Patrick Regoniel
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Posted on Apr 16, 2010
Jane Thomas
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Posted on Apr 15, 2010