According to the Environmental Protection Agency, meat industries are responsible for over 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams, from animal and chemical (especially pesticides) waste runoff from factories. 18% of greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane) are from the livestock industry, which plays a major role in global warming. UN report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” further details all the ways the meat industry is contributing to climate change, air pollution, water depletion, and loss of biodiversity.
With a widespread shift towards vegetarianism, people will be reducing demand for meat and therefore reducing a major cause in the environmental problems that exist today.
This would depend on how many people constitute a widespread shift. On an individual level, vegetarianism can significantly reduce one’s carbon footprint.
In the U.S., the average person’s caorie intake is made up of about 47% meat. This amount of meat consumption represents 2.52 tons of carbon emissions each year.
Different meats use different amounts of carbon. Diets high in red meat result in a carbon footprint of 3.57 tons.
By going vegetarian (the folks that are cool with eggs, milk, etc.), one can reduce his or her carbon fooprint by about a ton. Going vegan (no animal products at all) can reduce this number by up to two tons.
A widespread shift to vegetarianism is a good goal, but also a lofty one. By convincing people to reduce their meat consumption significantly, more people may be on board. Weekday vegetarians that allow a little wiggle room on the weekends can reduce their individual carbon footprint by about 0.7 tons.
One way to get many people involved in reducing their meat consumption is by encouraging participation in Meatless Mondays. The idea is to cut meat out of one’s diet on Mondays. It may not sound like much, but Meatless Monday is getting very popular. With so many people participating, a little goes a long way! The goal is to cut meat consumption by 15% to boost people’s health as well as the health of our environment.
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