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January 9, 2020

It’s 2020—& you’re still Eating Meat?

Did you know that eating meat has a huge environmental impact?

The ways animal farming causes damage might surprise you.  

Since Veganuary is here again, it’s time to discuss a major reason to consider going vegan. 

Here are three ways eating meat is destroying the environment:

1. Farm Land

If you think that most of the world’s farmlands are dedicated to feeding all of the world’s people, you would be wrong. The land is reserved for the animals we eat, and it’s the main reason for deforestation.

The strangest part is all that land—83 percent of all farmland—is just for animal feed. The space we are using to grow food isn’t even for us. We only receive 18 percent of the world’s protein from animals, and they consume six times more protein than they produce. 

2. The Amount of Water Used

An unprecedented amount of water is being used to make, feed, and hydrate the animals. Twenty-seven percent of freshwater goes to producing animal-based foods. This is at a time when water is becoming scarce.

“The Game Changers,” a Netflix documentary about plant-based eating, mentions that there are 2,400 liters of water in one burger. That makes you think twice about how much that burger is really worth.

Speaking of water, pollution plays a big role. Animals are also causing waste runoff into our freshwater systems, contaminating the streams, rivers, and lakes we depend on for drinking water.

3. Carbon Footprint

You may have heard you have a carbon footprint, but may not know what that is. In short, it’s the amount of carbon emissions caused by you as an individual. To explain carbon emissions quickly, it’s the release of carbon into the air.

When it comes to the meat industry, part of the carbon footprint is caused by the amount of animal waste. Animal farming produces 50 times more waste than people do. 

As a result, carbon emissions due to eating meat are far worse than all forms of land transport. Combine cars, boats, and planes, and animal farming would still create more damage.

How to Change your Environmental Footprint

Though it may feel like it, all is not lost. Switching to a plant-based diet will change your carbon footprint. You could free up land the size of Africa and save one million liters of water per person every year.

The fact that eating meat is causing so many problems is enough to reconsider the meat industry entirely. Correcting this problem could lead to an enormous change in the way we think about food and climate change. 

Talking about climate change can cause a feeling of dread. It makes the man with the sign claiming the end is near feel too real. But the truth is that we keep looking for simple changes, and eating more vegetables and less meat is a way to make a simple change that can make a big difference.

Could you ever give up eating meat? Let me know in the comments below.

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Lydia Knox  |  Contribution: 650

author: Lydia Knox

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