Eating a plant based diet is increasing in popularity and for good reason. Over the last few decades humans have gone from focusing on naturally raised food, that included small amounts of meat, to adding much larger servings of meat on their plate at every meal. And our environment is suffering because of it.
Most people have heard that eating a plant based diet helps the environment, but not a lot of people really understand how. What are some specific ways that transitioning to a plant based diet can help our environment?
Reduce the impact of climate change
By eating more plants, and reducing the amount of meat you consume, you can take responsibility for helping to reduce the impact of climate change. This is something that is affecting the whole world, and something everybody needs to take action on personally in order to slow down the negative effects we, as humans, are having on the planet.
Here’s a surprising fact: Twenty servings of vegetables have fewer greenhouse gas emissions than just one serving of beef. If you’re unfamiliar with greenhouse gases, they are basically gasses in the atmosphere that prevent heat from escaping the planet which is causing climate change. So by simply eating more vegetables and reducing the demand for beef, you’re able to make a huge positive impact on your own.
Reduces water consumption
Your initial thought may be that eating plant based actually uses more water. We need water in order to grow crops to eat, right? But surprisingly eating plant based actually reduces water consumption significantly.
Animals that are raised for meat not only have to drink water and use water for their
care, but they also have to eat food that was grown with water. Animal husbandry
actually utilizes more than 50% of our fresh water. So rather than growing plants to feed meat to then process and feed ourselves, eating plant based skips one extra water wasting step, when compared to raising animals for meat.
Reduces the amount of land needed for agriculture
Fruits and veggies!
Growing fruit, vegetables, and legumes for consumption is much more efficient, when you consider land use, than growing meat for consumption. One study showed that the act of swapping beef for beans would reduce the amount of cropland needed by 42%.
Ever wonder how much land is actually used to raise livestock? 18 percent of the land in the United States, which comes out to 415 million acres, is used as pasture to raise livestock according to Christopher Gardner, PhD, who studies human nutrition and food systems at Stanford University. This doesn’t even take into consideration the amount of land used to grow crops to feed livestock.
If you want to reduce the negative impact that you have on the environment, then
switching to a plant based diet is one of the most easily accessible ways. Keep in mind that the idea isn’t to be perfect, if you can switch to plant based one or two days a week and increase it from there then you’re still doing your part.