With the many choices we have in life, there are a lot of choices that we can make to help conserve the natural resources that support us.
Most people don’t think about the resources it takes to get food to their table, but even our food choices affect the environment. Eating low on the food chain, or a plant based diet, greatly reduces the amount of resources used and has a huge positive impact on the environment. Even just one meal without meat can help conserve water, food, and energy.
Producing meat is very costly, and takes about ten times the amount of resources it takes to produce grains, fruits, or vegetables. To produce one pound of beef it takes 16 pounds of grain and soy, 2,500 gallons of water, and about one gallon of gasoline.
Livestock production accounts for more than half of all the water consumed in the U.S. Even one serving of chicken takes over 400 gallons of water. This is something that we should especially be considering here in California, where we are experiencing a mega drought.
If Americans reduced their meat consumption by only 10%, the savings in grains and soybeans could feed 60 million people, roughly the amount of people who starve to death worldwide each year. Also over a billion people could be fed each year by the grain and soybeans eaten by U.S. livestock alone.
A third of the surface of North America is devoted to grazing, and half of America’s croplands grow livestock feed. 220 million acres of land in the U.S. have been deforested for livestock production as well as 25 million acres in Brazil (an area the size of Australia), and half the forests of Central America. This takes away native habitat effecting wildlife and decreasing biodiversity.
Conserving the Ozone
The widespread deforestation is exacerbating the greenhouse effect by taking away trees that would be helping to trap carbon and recycle oxygen. Also, the U.N. has declared cattle farming as the number one cause of global warming, producing more greenhouse gasses than all modes of transportation combined. The worlds 1.3 billion cattle produce about 100 million tons of methane annually, and methane actually traps 25 times more solar heat than CO2.
How to Help!
Even if you’re a die hard meat eater, just cutting down in the amount of meat you eat can have a benefit on the environment. Meatless Mondays is a global movement to help combat global warming by not eating meat one day out of the week (you don’t even have to do it on Monday). Though some might consider it a "sacrifice" to not eat a food they like, one must also consider the environmental sacrifice of our actions (not to mention the animals being sacrificed for human consumption). Each meal is a choice, and each choice we make can have a positive or negative effect on the environment and the world we live in. My hope is to just provide people with the information help them know how to make positive choices when they can and feel driven to do so.