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?
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 produce 250 pounds of beef. That the same acre of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes or 53,000 pounds of potatoes.
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.
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.
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.
Here are all the websites I used if you want to check my sources or read up on some articles yourselves 💜