It's Green to Go Veggie!

Photo: Mark Fergusson

By: Mark Fergusson

Chief Vegetarian Officer (CEO/CFO)

Down to Earth ALL VEGETARIAN
Organic & Natural Everyone is talking about so-called “green” solutions. It is a lucrative business for many companies. But one doesn't need to rely on business solutions to make a difference. As we think about going “green,” many people would be surprised to learn that adopting a vegetarian diet is the single most important thing a person can do to reduce one's personal impact on the environment. This is because what we choose to eat is one of the most significant factors in the personal impact we have on the environment and the fastest path to climate change. A recent study examining the impact of a typical week’s eating showed that plant-based diets are better for the environment than those based on meat. A vegan, organic diet had the smallest environmental impact while the single most damaging foodstuff was beef. All non-vegetarian diets require significantly greater amounts of environmental resources such as land and water. It is noteworthy that the United Nations and many leading environmental organizations—including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists—have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do.


“Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.”

United Nations 2006 Report, Livestock’s Long Shadow –Environmental Issues and Options


America's meat addiction is poisoning and depleting our potable water, arable land, and clean air. More than half of the water used in the United States today goes to animal agriculture. Since farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human population, the run-off from their waste is fouling our waterways. Animal excrement emits gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia that poison the air around farms, as well as methane and nitrous oxide, which are major contributors to global warming. In its 2006 report, the United Nations said raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Most of it comes from methane gas generated by manure. The negative effects of the meat industry are far reaching. Forests are being bulldozed to make more room for factory farms and feed crops to feed farmed animals, and this destruction causes soil erosion and contributes to species extinction and habitat loss. Raising animals for food also requires massive amounts of food and raw materials: Farmed animals consume 70 percent of the corn, wheat, and other grains that we grow, and one-third of all the raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S. go to raising animals for food. Whether it's unchecked air or water pollution, soil erosion, or the overuse of resources, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth.


“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”-Albert Einstein


In contrast, plant-based diets have a low environmental impact because they use fewer natural resources, which makes them better for the environment. Nature has provided ample vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and dairy products for human sustenance, so eating meat is an unnecessary luxury rather than a necessity. Whatever their reasons for giving up meat, vegetarians benefit from much more than a clear conscience, as healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including our country’s three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes, as well as obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses. The single most important thing an individual can do for the environment is to adopt a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet contributes to a cleaner and safer environment and better health while causing less pain and suffering for the innocent animals.