Small Ways to Save the Planet – Animal Consumption

I would like to start this post with a DISCLAIMER because I really don’t want people to be put off by this post being written by a preachy vegan, which there is no denying I am but it is not what this is going to be. I ate meat for around 18 years of my life and I loved it, sausages and chicken burgers were my favourite thing in the world and I had meat and/or fish so every meal.

It’s been about a year since I started to feel a bit weird about eating meat and since then I have come to learn about how unsustainable a meat dependent diet is for the planet, particularly in the Western world.

This is NOT judging. This is NOT arguing. This is just how it is. With that, I hope you decide to continue with this instalment of Small Ways to Save the Planet…pretty please

The planet is what I am truly passionate about and for just over a year now I have been trying to find new ways to lead a more sustainable life. This is something I believe we all need to do and the good news is, it’s super easy to make small changes to do so!

So, why is heavy meat consumption bad for the planet?

1. Land

It takes a lot of land for animal farming, particularly cattle. A lot of people don’t know that Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, causing 80% of it each year (Nepstad et al. 2008). 
Brazil is home to approximately 200 million cattle, and is the largest exporter in the world, supplying about one quarter of the global market. Cattle ranching in the Amazon often have densities averaging just one cattle per hectare, so that would mean at least 200 million hectares of land. 
Amazon cattle are rarely supplemented with additional protein, and grass needs to be burned every few years in order to sprout again (slash and bun farming). Fires set to replenish soils and clear brush for new pasture blanket the skies of the Amazon in the dry season as seen in the photo. Think of how many species are losing there habitats due to that fire alone. The Amazon produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and is home to approx 10 million species! We can’t let it be burned away for a burger! 

1 acre of land can produc250 pounds of beef. That the same acre of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes or 53,000 pounds of potatoes.

2. Food

Livestock takes up nearly 80% of global agricultural land, yet produces less than 20% of the world’s supply of calories. We currently grow enough food in this world to feed 10 BILLION PEOPLE, yet so many are dying from hunger crisis’ in less developed countries. This is because the majority of crops are being grown to feed livestock to meet the demands of the Westernised ‘meat-heavy’ diet. For example, 70% of grain in the U.S. is used to feed farmed animals. Just the world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people, over a billion more than the world’s current population.

3. Water 

A meat eater’s diet takes on average 4200 gallons of water per day to produce, whereas a plant-based diet only takes 300 gallons of water per day. Additionally, 70% of our domestic freshwater goes directly to animal agriculture.

4. CO2

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all transportation combined (responsible for 13%). Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of CO2 per year, which is 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

5. Overfishing
As the demand for seafood continues, the fishing industry evolves and develops methods and equipment that catch more fish quicker, which does not work in favour for the ocean.
Overfishing is actually one of the biggest threats to our planet, which a lot of people don’t really think about. It causes a mass amount of species depletion and  if today’s trends continue, the Earth’s food fisheries are likely to collapse by 2050. The depletions cause devastating effects on the ocean’s food chains and ecosystems. Fishing methods include dynamite and cyanid which completely destroy huge amounts of reefs, habitats and ecosystems in seconds. 
By-catch causes the deaths of 2 billion pounds of fish in just the U.S. every year, which kills millions of dolphins, turtles, sharks, rays, seals, pretty much every marine animal you could think of. These animals die from becoming tangled up in nets and other fishing equipment, this also happens with old equipment which has been dumped in the sea, causing the pointless death of so many.
Ok, so that was all a bit heavy, but now here’s the FUN part…
What can YOU do?

As a collective civilisation, the Western world has got to stop eating so much meat, it ain’t good for you or for the planet. Now although I would love everyone to go vegan, I am very aware that ain’t gonna happen but it is so so easy to cut down.

Meatless Mondays have become very popular, perhaps picking a few days a week where you don’t eat meat if you like to have some structure in your diet.

Vegetarian friendly meals in restaurants are not just for vegetarians ahhhh! I don’t know why I never went for some veggie options before, sometimes they just are plain better and my meat obsessed brain wouldn’t have even given them a chance. Vegetable lasagne is banging, vegetable pasties OMG , veggie burgers, vegetable curry oooooh yeah now we’re talking. Also TOFU, it’s used hugely in Asian cuisine and not even as a meat alternative just as a food, love it. 

I know so many flexitarians who are loving life and I think, man I wish I was more like you back when I ate meat, it’s so much more sustainable than the way I used to live and I’m jealous in a strange looking back on the past kind of way. (Side note: Cow’s milk is gross fam get that outta your diet pronto, I actually stopped drinking milk way before I had any intention to stop eating meat)

I’ve been cooking a lot more recently and I’d love to start putting some of the recipes up here for you guys to try! Vegan food is totally not just for vegans and if my meat loving boyfriend (that sounds weird but we’ll go with it) likes my food then all you guys should too (not to blow my own trumpet or anything).

Anyway, thank you for reading this if you’ve made it to the end. I really hope you have learnt something new from these statistics and make the greener, sustainable choice to eat less meat 🌱. I’m never coming from a place of hate when talking about this kind of thing, I’m just so in love with our planet and I desperately want to continue living here rather than zooming off to Mars because of humans ruining it.

10 thoughts on “Small Ways to Save the Planet – Animal Consumption”

  1. I love the instructional approach you took here, Lon. Your straightforward facts and tips make it clear that we all need to wake up to these realities 😍❤️✌🏻DanaNowheretobeproject.com


  2. Yes yesss! Love that you included resources at the end of this, and that you added tips at the end. Some people think vegans are just pointing out what's wrong with the world, and don't really come up with many solutions – when I feel like we're constantly suggesting ways that we can all improve our footprint ahahjenny x | http://www.jennyrosee.com


  3. Cutting out meat and dairy are the two best things you can do for our planet and future generations. This is a very well written post. It was only recently that i was explaing to my mum how vegans use less water.


  4. Thank you Dana, I didn't want people to just think I was preaching. I really think people should understand where their food comes from before they choose to eat it ❤️


  5. Thank you Helen. I remember finding out about how much water it takes to make a steak or burger when I still ate meat and being so shocked! I couldn't understand why people weren't talking about it more! x


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