The Solution to Save Our Environment Is in Our Diet

The world as we know it is coming to an end. Global warming is massively disrupting our climate, and the rate that we consume our resources is unsustainable. Scientists and politicians universally agree that we need to address these issues urgently to prevent a fatal impact on our environment.

So what can we do about it? The answer I propose is simple: Everyone in the United States should attempt to become vegetarian in order to save the environment in which we live in.

One of the main causes of environmental destruction are greenhouses gases. Farm animals emit considerable amounts of the greenhouse gas methane, especially cows. Methane is 25 times more environmentally destructive than carbon dioxide and is instrumental in destroying habitats and playing havoc with global weather. The US, with the second highest meat intake per capita worldwide, consumes millions of chickens, cows, sheep and pigs daily. So why are we keeping these creatures? Without doubt, these dangerous emissions not only degrade our air quality but have catastrophic effects on the environment. We can easily reduce these life-threatening emissions from these animals by just simply removing them from our diet.

The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. -United Nations

Of course there are many other causes that have led to the degradation of our environment. Our love for driving gas-guzzling cars and producing electricity by burning fossil fuels may account for the majority of global warming. Even considering these other causes, still around 14% of greenhouse gas emissions is caused by raising animals for meat. If we focus on just this cause, reducing our meat intake, we will move one step closer to a sustainable environment.

In addition, becoming vegetarian does not necessarily mean all animal products will be effaced from our diet and that every aspect of the environment will be saved. Even in a fully vegetarian world, there may be products still produced by livestock but at least the vast majority of damage being done would be negated.

To produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water.

However, have you considered the amount of land that is used irresponsibly to raise animals for food? A staggering 30% of the Earth’s landmass. This land could be used for building solar farms or giving our citizens more places to live. The human race is expected to grow rapidly and thus it is urgent that we find solutions for these millions of hungry mouths demanding food. For example, the American author John Robbins states that approximately one acre of land can produce either 20,000 pounds of potatoes or only 165 pounds of beef. This demonstrates the need for a sustainable solution for our environment that is clearly linked to becoming vegetarian and reducing our meat intake.

At the same time, many of these cattle herds can degrade the soil through overgrazing, today affecting over 20% of pastures worldwide. This renders the land useless, putting it at risk to desertification. If we continue on this unsustainable habit, the world will continue to starve. As responsible global citizens, we need to take a stand to stop the meat production industry from taking up and destroying our American soil.

The powerful print advertisement “Lungs” by the WWF presenting the importance of trees to the atmosphere

On a similar note, millions of acres of trees are being felled to clear land for exporting meat to the US. A study showed that nearly 80% of land deforested in the Amazon is now used as cattle pasture. These rainforests are not only home to millions of species but are furthermore producing the essential oxygen we need to breathe! Taking a moment to recall the burger you ate a few weeks ago, consider how many innocent animal habitats you have destroyed with your diet.

Last night, my (now) ex-girlfriend enjoyed a large steak at my neighbourhood restaurant. Thinking about the all the resources that culminated in her meal, I am regretting my decision to have gone out with her, and you should perhaps consider the friends you keep as well. The Guardian states that 70% of water available to humans is used in farming. Moreover, in the US, over two thirds of the grain grown is fed to farmed animals. Can you imagine how much more efficient it would be if this grain could go directly to your plate, rather than passing though the inefficient meat production industry? In short, we could use so many of these vital resources to feed ourselves directly, instead of wasting them on a habit of consuming meat.

The fundamental point of this argument is that if you just try being vegetarian, even if it is for a week or if you choose to adopt this diet for the rest of your life, the environment of the US and ultimately the world will be one step closer to being saved. This means the air you breathe, the land you live on, and the resources you consume will continue into our future generations. And by the way, I am looking for a new girlfriend that enjoys a plate of mixed salad with lentil soup.