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3 Reasons Why Mother Nature Wants You To Eat Less Meat

3 Reasons Why Mother Nature Wants You To Eat Less Meat

Today is World Vegetarian Day and it is the kick-off event for World Vegetarian Awareness Month.

You’ll probably see a lot of posts about why consuming animal products is cruel, and for those who feel passionately about animal rights, this is an important argument.

But is it the most compelling reason for reducing the amount of meat we eat? Of the handful of reasons I’ve experimented with a vegetarian diet over the past decade, animal rights were pretty low on the list.

This is not to say that I don’t care about animal rights (I do) it’s just not as important as the other reasons, especially the negative environmental impacts of producing, packaging, and transporting an enormous amount of meat for human consumption.

What’s the point of saving animals to live on a sick and dying planet?

Here are some of my favorite environmental reasons why eating less meat can lead to a healthier world:

1. Wasted Resources

In case you haven’t noticed, we are speeding toward a global energy crisis. Coal, oil, and other fossil fuels are not only dirty and dangerous, they are quickly becoming depleted. According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, the production of animal protein demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energy—about eight times as much for a comparable amount of plant protein.

The meat industry is also a major reason that the world is quickly running out of fresh water. According to Ed Ayres, of the World Watch Institute, “Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry. India, China, North Africa and the U.S. are all running freshwater deficits, pumping more from their aquifers than rain can replenish.”

2. Endangered Species

In a 1997 report titled, A Geography of Hope, the USDA found that in the United States, grazing has contributed to the demise of 26 percent of federal threatened and endangered species.

A 1988 study by the University of California Press estimated that for each hamburger made from rainforest beef, members of life forms from approximately 20 to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species, and dozens of bird, mammals, and reptile species are destroyed.

With acres of rainforest being cleared at an accelerating rate every day, its conceivable that these statistics have increased dramatically.

3. Climate Change

In 2006, the United Nations released a shocking report that found raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.

And its not just the cow burps. Massive amounts of manure (much of it tainted with disease and chemicals), deforestation to make room for grazing animals, synthetic fertilzers used to grow grain for feed, and the greenhouse gases required to transport, process, and refrigerate all of the meat all contribute to negative climate changes that are felt all over the world.

Still not convinced?

According to a 2006 study by researchers at the University of Chicago, eating a vegan diet prevents the equivalent of 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions every year, more than the 1 ton of CO2 emissions prevented by switching from a typical large sedan to a Toyota Prius.

So if you can’t afford an electric car, or aren’t brave enough to become a bike commuter, you can have an even bigger impact by simply skipping the meat case at the grocery store.

Getting Started

After several decades of eating meat, the idea of eliminating it from your diet all together can be terrifying, and it’s important to ease into the change comfortably or you’ll never stick with it.

Check out the very successful Meatless Monday campaign – an international initiative to help people give up meat one day a week. They have recipes, toolkits, nutritional information and links to hundreds of participating blogs that can help you see how easy it is to survive (and thrive!) without meat.

Like this story? Connect with Beth on Twitter or StumbleUpon!

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Image Credit: finecooking.com

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104 comments

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3:00AM PST on Dec 29, 2012

Speaking of Mother Nature...when and if she decides to go vegan/vegetarian...which is never...then she will redesign our DNA so that all species will survive by eating inorganic matter. There will be no need to take the lives of plants, animals, birds or any other organic being to survive...we can all fuel our bodies by consuming rock pate. Simple inorganic matter. Yes, many believe that since plants are not sentient beings they deserve no consideration. Humans often show empathy for beings more like ourselves because plants have no nerve endings or supposedly thought processes and don't need our empathy. Humans forget that simply because not all life on Earth follows a similar path to our own, such as plant life...doesn't mean such life is not as deserving of equal value and consideration. Until Mother Nature alters our DNA...we dine on the organic be it plant, animal, bird...or a combination of them all.

2:49AM PST on Dec 29, 2012

Dianne D is resorts to an illogical statement: "Natural carnivores can eat lots of animal fat without getting heart attacks, but humans can’t". Oh really? In the wild, carnivores hunting deer and other mammals don't dine on domestically raised cows fed an unnatural diet consisting of GMO corn/grain along with growth hormones/antibiotics a la factory farm carte. No, wild predators eat lean meat because wild prey mammals have little fat. Wild carnivores don't hang out at McDonalds or Wendy's and never ever frequent Taco Bell. If they did they would face social humiliation from other carnivores and be sent to Carnivore School.

Humans who are omnivores can avoid all the health problems by eating meat in proper portions (the size of a deck of cards) and avoid purchasing from inefficient and cruel factory farms. Organic farms instead. As for PETA videos, what a joke...they sent me fundraising letters. I researched them and while they advocate for wild animals PETA kills off 95 percent of all their 'shelter' pets instead of adopting them out in Norfolk, Virginia, yet the No Kill Shelter (SPCA) in the same city adopts out all pets! My funds go to our local no kill shelter, never to PETA.

2:21AM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Thank you :)

6:40PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

i'm trying to eat less meat

2:42PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

For your health, for public health, for the animals, and for our environment, delete the meat and eat veg.

Eco-Eating
www.brook.com/veg

7:00PM PDT on Sep 23, 2011

L'ingresso per il resto della piumino Moncler 3% al 7% dei dati delle vendite ogni anno per la progettazione e lo sviluppo a partire dall'inizio del 1996. La proporzione è alto quanto l'input allo sviluppo di industrie high-tech. Ha una forte attività di sviluppo di resistenza DuoNian Piumini Moncler. Moncler rende un vantaggio unico. Aperto Moncler Giacche esportare in tutto il mondo. Le donne amano indossare l'abito in questo momento speciale, feste, matrimoni, ecc Quasi tutti i negozi si trovano tutti nel mondo di piumino Moncler. Ora, questi abiti possono anche acquistare on-line attraverso. Moncler Giubbotti vendita Il prezzo di questo tipo di materiale è differente in base al loro design e tessuti.

5:09PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

@Caitlin D - getting enough protein is the last thing you have to worry about if you're on a proper vegan diet. I've never had to give it any thought. Most people on meat diets get too much protein, which is bad for them. In my opinion, all you really need to worry about on a vegan diet is vitamin B12.

12:32AM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

11:12AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

To many animals must die for us to eat all the meat we do, these animals are Gods creatures and they deserve to live also, so please eat less meat or better yet become a vegan.

7:38PM PDT on Jun 1, 2011

I feel increasingly drawn toward eating less meat--simply for the environmental impact. I struggle to eat a balanced, healthy diet though---and cutting out meat scares me because I don't usually get a lot of protein. But I also think it could force me to be overall more thoughtful and careful with my food choices and intentional in my purchasing and eating.

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