Many people are aware that a meat-based diet contributes to global warming. When land is used to raise animals for meat rather than for the use of crops, then this area of land loses water, soil and potentially trees, which has a devastating impact on the natural environment.
On a global scale, animal agriculture is responsible for emitting more greenhouse gas than all of the transportation systems in the world, combined. Growing food for the ever-increasing global population is more likely to send greenhouse gas emissions over the threshold of current safety measures which are currently in place.
But, knowing just how meat contributes to global warming is important when it comes to making decisions and changes to your diet and lifestyle.
How does meat contribute to global warming?
Scientists believe that a meat-based diet is one of the largest contributing factors to global warming. When land is used to raise animals, water and soil are lost and trees are chopped down to make space for the livestock to graze and live. Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all the planes, trains and cars in the world combined.
From animal agriculture, red meat is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas production. Cows produce methane which is a greenhouse gas similar to carbon dioxide. Per year, a single cow produces between 70 and 120kg of methane and the negative effect of methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. Worldwide, it’s estimated that there are currently close to 1.6 billion cows, which means a gargantuan amount of methane is emitted to the earth’s atmosphere every year.
Without meat or dairy products, then global farmland area could be reduced by anything up to 75%, which is an area the same size as China, the EU, US and Australia combined, whilst still being able to feed the global population. For example, making just one beefburger uses the same amount of fossil fuels as it would to drive a car for 20 miles and, surprisingly, more than one-third of fossil fuels are used to raise animals for food.
Does becoming vegetarian or vegan help?
It is estimated that a widespread switch to vegetarianism may cut emissions by up to two-thirds, so eating a vegetarian or vegan diet will help overall emission levels. Unbalanced diets which are low in vegetables, fruits and red and processed meat are responsible for growing numbers of health issues across the globe and, at the same time, the food system is currently responsible for around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and is a huge driving force when it comes to climate change.
Instead of taking drastic measures to drop meat altogether, scientists are urging people to develop “meat consciousness”, by reducing the amount of meat in our diets. By eating fewer meals with meat and dairy each week, we can have a huge impact on collective health and the planet.
Can I Make Any Other Lifestyle Changes?
Whist vegetarianism is not for everyone, there are other ways that you can help tackle the effects of global warming. Switching your gas and energy supplier, walking or cycling rather than driving and using less water are all great ways that you can lessen your contribution to global warming, as well as switching to a healthier diet and eating less dairy and meat. You can find out more information about how to reduce your carbon footprint here.
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