How Going Meatless Helps the Environment
Yes, you can turn off your tv and lights when you aren’t using them, change to compact fluorescent light bulbs and use energy-efficient appliances. But one of the easiest and biggest-impacting ways of helping the environment is to reduce your consumption of animal products and meat.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund:
If every American had one meat-free meal per week, it would be the same as taking more than 5 million cars off our roads.
Because one of the biggest contributors to environmental ruin is the farming of livestock. Livestock need land for grazing and living, so forests and jungle in most places of the world get burned or cut down to make way.
That adds to global warming by reducing the number of plants, which help clean the air and provide ecosystems which keep rain and water in proper water cycles.
Livestock need feed, which is grown on farms, which uses water, fuels to run vehicles, equipment, and machinery. You need more water and land to grow corn to feed pigs and cows to feed people than you would if you just fed the corn and grains to the people instead.
That means more polluted runoff, more use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, tractors and harvesters, which require fuel and cause greenhouse gases…which leads to more global warming.
But the animals themselves produce methane gas. Yup, every time they burp or fart…air pollution. It may be funny, but because there are so many of them out there, it adds up.
And the contamination caused by their urine, feces, and the debris from slaughtering them ends up causing foodborne illness. You know those outbreaks of salmonella poisoning from spinach some years back? There were animals being raised upstream, contaminating the water that was used to wash the spinach.
(Kind of disgusting things to be bringing up on a food blog, huh? But what goes in comes out, and ignoring things won’t make them go away.)
Nobody mentions that stuff, because eating meat is not only acceptable in our society, it’s cool, macho, even “the right way to eat,” according to some. And it’s big business.
No, not big business. Huge business. Mega-dopolis, ginormous, too-big-for-words business. And reducing meat consumption would mean less money for a lot of people who don’t want that to happen.
When you start to look at the facts, the truth becomes clear. The connections start to happen, and you see how changing what you eat can have lasting impact, both on you and on the environment.
Consider that a vegan diet has been proven to reverse heart disease and diabetes. And that 100,000 people a year die from prescription drugs in the U.S. every year. Drugs they are likely to be taking for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes. (Those are the best-selling drugs every year in the pharmaceutical industry.)
Half the people in this country suffer from heart disease, and diabetes is set to be the epidemic of the future. So you can potentially improve your own health while you help the environment by reducing your meat intake.
Last time I checked, kale, tofu, and brown rice were all a lot cheaper than prescription drugs (even the organic stuff, which can be pricey). And they had fewer side effects, too.
Why not try switching just one meal per week to a vegan one, in honor of Earth Day this year?
Then compare how you feel after that meal to how you feel after one of your normal meals. You might be surprised.
Who was it that said a journey begins with a single step? Someone who’s probably still walking…!
I’ll probably eat tofu, brown rice, and turnip greens (from my garden) on Earth Day. With some vegan ice cream, homemade…recipes coming soon!
Happy Earth Day! Go eat something good for yourself.