Conservation begins at home – but did you know that what you put on your plate could have a bigger impact than the soap and water you use to wash it?
Meat production has a huge impact on the environment, and as demand for meat increases so does the strain on natural resources. By skipping meat just once a week, you help decrease demand, reduce energy consumption, and protect natural resources, all while improving your own health. Here are just a few examples of how eating less meat affects the world beyond the dinner table.
The meat industry uses a huge amount of water to produce meat; first for growing feed and then for the animals themselves. The Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Schools of Public Health, estimates that 1,600 gallons of freshwater are needed to produce just one pound of feedlot beef. Changing the way you eat can conserve a lot of water with just a little effort. watercalculator.org is a great resource to measure how much water you use in your daily life.
Livestock production is responsible for an estimated 14.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions created in human activities. If everyone in the world gave up meat for Meatless Monday, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be about the same as taking 240 million cars off the road each year.
Increased demand for meat production has lead to increased global deforestation; factory farms and production plants need land to expand their operations. Over 18 percent of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest has been cleared since 1970, primarily for cattle ranching. Reduce the demand for meat, and you reduce the need to clear land for new livestock facilities.
The production of meat (raising, slaughter, processing, and shipping) creates pollutants that strain resources and damage natural ecosystems. Animal waste pollutes waterways and dramatically alters aquatic ecosystems, while biological and chemical waste from processing and shipping enters the environment at every step of production.
In addition to going meatless on Monday, buying locally grown food is a great way to cut down on fuel and emissions from shipping. You can use the The Eat Well Guide to find farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and restaurants that support local farmers. By cutting back on meat, you conserve energy, protect resources, and reduce pollution. Making informed choices about what you eat can help keep you and the planet stay healthy and happy.
Follow Great Eastern Energy for weekly vegetarian recipes that you can use to reduce your consumption!
About Meatless Monday Organization: Meatless Monday is a nonprofit public health initiative of The Monday Campaigns. Sid Lerner, the organization’s chairman, founded the Meatless Monday movement in 2003, with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The campaign seeks to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer and conserve valuable environmental resources by encouraging the public to cut back on meat consumption one day a week. The campaign is founded on research that demonstrates that Monday is the day we are most primed to start and sustain a healthy new behavior. Since its launch 12 years ago, Meatless Monday has become an international movement with support from schools, celebrities, restaurants, and organizations around the world. For more free resources including toolkits, graphics and posters, visit www.meatlessmonday.com.