If you’ve been thinking about eating a plant-based diet, you’re not alone. People are eating less meat for a variety of reasons, including for the environment. It’s easier to make an impact on climate change by giving up red meat than it is to give up your car.
Globally, about 15% of human-made carbon dioxide comes from vehicles, while livestock causes about 8% of the world’s total emissions. By replacing your beef consumption with a vegetarian diet plan, you can lower your carbon footprint and keep pollution from adding up.
Here are five ways you can give Mother Earth a hand by eating a vegetarian diet.
One: Plant-based diets support responsible farming practices
The farm-to-table movement brought us back to our roots. As consumer demand for locally grown food rose, organic produce supplies also increased. Locally grown, organic foods are more likely environmentally sustainable compared to industrial agriculture because of farming practices like crop rotation, composting, and minimal pesticide usage.
Oddly though, technology has also made an impact on what vegetables are available. Consumers are more influential than they have ever been due to supply sidetracking of products in grocery stores.
Two: Vegetarian diet plans save water
Agriculture is responsible for almost 90% of global freshwater consumption, with a large majority of it going towards livestock for meat and milk production. In fact, it takes nearly 2,000 gallons of water to raise one pound of beef, but only 500 gallons of water to raise one pound of poultry. Most vegetable crops require closer to 150 gallons of water per pound.
Substituting just one plant-based meal for a beef entrée can save about 133 gallons of water that would otherwise be needed for livestock. If you were to adopt a vegetarian diet plan, you could save more water in a week than you’ll save by installing to a low-flow showerhead.
Three: Vegetable-based diets reduce air pollution
Raising cattle for beef and milk spews tons of greenhouse gases into the air. Agricultural activities caused about 9% of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. A vegetarian diet reduces the burden humans place on Mother Earth.
It’s estimated that replacing one steak meal per week with beans keeps the equivalent of 331 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. Another way to think about it is that one plant-based meal can make the same impact as using 36 fewer gallons of gas.
Four: Vegetable farming produces less water pollution
Farm runoff is one of the greatest threats to water quality. According to the EPA, chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for polluting more than 173,000 miles of rivers and streams. Pollution affects forty percent of rivers and streams in the US, and the leading cause is toxins from manure and fertilizer.
Five: Vegetarianism helps reduce famine
Approximately 70% of grain grown in the US is fed to animals, which is about five times as much grain as Americans consume. As the population of the Earth increases, it will become necessary for people to shift to vegetarianism to accommodate the increased need for food. As more people shift to a plant-based diet, more land and water become available to feed the world.
Give the planet a break
Eating more vegetables is good for the planet because growing crops creates less pollution and requires less water than raising livestock. As the world population increases and we battle climate change, it will become more important to lower the impact of livestock and agricultural waste on the environment.