How Can Going Vegetarian Help the Planet?

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“Pass up one hamburger, and you’ll save as much water as you conserve by taking 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle.” – Ed Ayres, World Watch Institute

Would you consider a plant-based diet, at least part time? People that do are often motivated by health, weight loss goals, and/or concern for animals. But there’s another reason so powerful that it’s been the subject of numerous books and documentaries. You guessed it: environmental benefits! Without a doubt, going vegetarian is one of the most effective actions you can take to ease the strain on our fragile planet. Here’s how:

Reducing world hunger

Vegetarians eat lower on the food chain by consuming plant foods directly, rather than eating grain-fed animals. A bit more efficient, to say the least, as it takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce a single pound of beef! Even a part time plant-based diet could help alleviate world hunger if we all participated.

Water conservation

Did you know that 50% of the water used in the U.S. is for animal agriculture? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we consume fresh water supplies far more rapidly than they can be replenished. While it takes around 2,500 gallons of water to produce a mere pound of beef, a pound of wheat requires only 1% of this amount of water! A plant-based diet is a powerful means to conserve precious, dwindling water resources.

Combating pollution

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) produced a report entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow, which detailed the environmental consequences of meat production─including land degradation, climate change, air and water pollution, water shortages, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity. Needless to say, a plant based diet is a powerful means to combat all of this.

Fewer fossil fuels

Concerned about our reliance on fossil fuels? Well, over 30% of that unsustainable resource is used in factory farming─in the course of transport, housing, irrigation, and refrigeration, as well as petrochemical fertilizer production. In fact, about a gallon of gasoline goes into every pound of grain-fed beef. A vegetarian makes a comparatively miniscule carbon footprint.

Less deforestation

Beautiful, majestic trees are the “lungs of the earth,” cleaning our air by taking in carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. Sadly, however, the Amazonian rainforests are rapidly being destroyed to grow grain to feed cows for fast food chains. In fact, the rate of deforestation since the late 60′s has literally been one acre every five seconds. Plant-based eating helps protect our heroic trees!

If these points motivate people to consume even one less meat-based meal a week, the benefits will be impressive. As Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Let’s all support a healthy earth for years to come!

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