No matter where you live on this planet, even if it’s Calgary, in the heart of Canada’s largest beef producing province, giving up meat is a great way to help protect the environment. In fact, a recent scientific analysis found that avoiding meat (and dairy) is the single biggest way to reduce one’s environmental impact.
Slowing Climate Change
A United Nations report revealed that animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases – more than all forms of transportation combined. In the U.S., around 19,000 factory-farmed animals are slaughtered every minute, with the harmful emissions they release, including nitrous oxide and methane emitted directly related to climate change. Methane alone is said to be 25 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. When fewer people consume meat and meat products, the amount of farmed livestock is reduced, therefore reducing the gases that contribute to climate change.
Easing Drought and Preventing a Water Crisis
One in 9 people on our planet today don’t have access to safe water, and competition for access to a clean water supply continues to intensify. About 70% of the world’s fresh water is consumed by animals that are farmed for slaughter which means that eliminating meat from your diet will do a lot more for preventing a water crisis than limiting how much water your household uses.
Protecting the Amazon Rainforest
Animal farms and processing facilities need lots of land to operate, and due to the growing demand for expansion, the industry is a direct contributor to the deforestation of the Amazon. Since 1978, over 289,000 square miles of the rainforest have been destroyed across Bolivia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil. Much of that is a result of cattle ranching. In fact, over three-quarters of forest clearing in the Amazon was for cattle ranching over the past couple of decades.
This doesn’t just hurt the rainforest, but the life that lives there and the entire planet. One of the most hazardous effects of deforestation is the loss of plant and animal species due to habitat loss. Not only are those that are known to us lost, but also those that are unknown, potentially resulting in significant irreparable loss. The trees provide shelter for some species as well as the canopy that regulates temperature. With its removal, more drastic temperature variations are experienced from day to night, similar to a desert, which can be fatal to inhabitants. Greenhouse gasses increase due to the lack of trees as well. Currently, South America’s tropical rainforests are responsible for 20% of Earth’s oxygen – and they’re disappearing at a rate of four hectares every decade.
The trees in the rainforest also help to control the atmosphere’s water levels. With the reduction of trees, there isn’t as much water that goes back into soil. That results in dryer soil and makes it challenging or impossible to grow crops, negatively impacting the world’s food supply.
Have you considered giving up meat to help protect the environment?
What are your favorite meatless meals?
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