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Earth Day 2012

Every Meal Is a Choice

Eat Fewer Animal Products to Preserve Our Environment

One of the easiest ways to dramatically reduce your impact on the environment is the food choices you make every day. This change requires no special technology or equipment, and you can start immediately the next time you eat!

Livestock are a major cause of climate change
Studies published by the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank agree: domestic food animals are a main cause of climate change. A UN report estimates that raising animals for meat is the cause of 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all forms of transport put together (13%). According to a World Bank expert report, livestock are responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Vegetarian eating cuts greenhouse gases
You can reduce your carbon footprint by simply eating differently. Here are approximate carbon dioxide reductions per year when compared to the average American diet: 

Vegan: 2 tons

Vegetarian: 1 ton

Weekday Vegan: 1.4 tons

Weekday Vegetarian: 0.7 tons

Switch 1 meal/day to animal-free: 0.67 tons

Switch 1 meal/day to vegetarian: 0.33 tons

Livestock release potent greenhouse gases
Methane and nitrous oxide, with 23 and 296 times more warming power than carbon dioxide, come primarily from livestock digestive processes. Animal agriculture emits 37% of our methane and 65% of our nitrous oxide.

Plant foods reduce water use and pollution
Meat requires much more land and water to feed people than does plant food. Compared to soy, meat production takes

• 6 to 17 times more land
• 4.4 to 26 times more water
• 6 to 20 times more fossil fuels
• 6 times more biocides (pesticides and chemicals used for processing)

Compared to producing pasta, red meat requires 20 times the land, and generates 3 times the greenhouse-gas emissions, 17 times the water pollution caused by soil and biological matter, and 5 times the toxic water pollution. (Based on a Union for Concerned Scientists study.)

Diet is more significant than driving a Prius
According to the University of Chicago, when you add up the costs of raising animals for meat, dairy, and egg production, the average American reduces climate change more by eating plant foods than by driving a Prius. A calorie of meat protein requires 10 times more fossil fuels than a calorie of plant protein.

Animal agriculture causes deforestation
Forests absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Animal agriculture consumes 70% of agricultural land and 30% of the land surface of the planet, which instead could be forested land. 70% of the former Amazon rainforest is now pastureland.

Smart food choices preserve our earth
Other ways to preserve the environment with your food choices include:

Buy organically grown food. Conventional nitrogen fertilizers add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere while organic agriculture actually removes it.

Grow your own organic food. Using the biointensive method saves water, reduces erosion, and requires no fossil fuels for transport and cultivation. Growing heirloom fruits and vegetables preserves biodiversity.

Use the food you buy. The University of Arizona in Tucson estimated that the US wastes as much as half of its food supply.

For more information and further reading, search for the “Santa Cruz Vegetarian Meetup” website: or scvegans

Copyright 2012 Vegetarian Meetup of Santa Cruz

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Earth Day 2012 June 7, 2013 7:06 PM anonymous
350 Global Warming Handout July 1, 2013 7:16 PM anonymous
Why Do Some People Become Vegetarian? May 30, 2013 10:18 AM anonymous
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint through Diet October 21, 2009 5:21 PM anonymous
About Vegetarian Meetup Group of Santa Cruz December 13, 2016 3:52 AM anonymous

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