by Michael Bond
A real environmentalist does not eat meat. Rather, they understand that raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth by polluting and depleting our land, water, and air and they want no part of it. Read on and you will see why the most important step you can take to save the planet is to go vegetarian.
According to a United Nations report in 2006, raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” There’s a lot of talk about curbing global warming by reducing carbon emissions. But surprising very few people are presenting the fact that mainstream acceptance of a vegetarian diet would have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (of both CO2 and methane). In fact, on the basis of carbon emissions, adopting a vegan diet actually does more to reduce emissions than driving a hybrid car. That is because every single stage of meat production involves heavy pollution, massive releases of greenhouse gases, and massive amounts of energy.
Destruction of Rainforests and Forest Land
Would you clear 55 square feet of rainforest just to eat a hamburger? That is about what it takes if you are consuming meat imported from South America. An area of rainforest the size of seven football fields is destroyed every minute to make room for grazing cattle. When rainforests are destroyed, so is a rich variety of plant life and entire species of wildlife. And it’s not just the rainforests that are vanishing, in the United States, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut just for animal agriculture. Conversely, by choosing to be a vegetarian, you alone would save one acre of trees every year.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. Livestock produces 130 times the amount of waste as all the people in the United States. Since there are no federal guidelines that regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of it, this untreated and unsanitary waste ends up polluting our water, destroying our topsoil, and contaminating our air.
In the United States, we are rapidly depleting our underground aquifers faster than they are being replenished. Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food. Consider this: a totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. In other words, for every pound of beef you don’t eat, you are saving more water than you would by not showering at all for almost an entire year.
There are so many great meat-free options available; you will not miss out on anything by switching to a vegetarian diet. Simply by changing the food on your plate, you have the power to change the world for the better. If you care about the environment, go vegetarian.
At Down to Earth, we have held true to our values and our vegetarian commitment for over 25 years. Vegetarianism is a choice each of us can make to improve our health and the health of the environment and we feel it is our duty to educate people about the countless benefits of a plant-based diet.
If you would like to become a vegetarian, but are not sure where to start, we will do everything we can to help you. Come to our free vegetarian nutrition classes and vegetarian cooking classes, take a guided tour of our store, and be sure to take advantage of the awesome vegetarian recipes on our website.