Hello Greenwire! Welcome to our seventh weekly #PositivityPost, a series of blogs where we share good things happening around the world.
Vegetarians and vegans often get a bad rap. They’re frequently seen as the “annoying friend” who orders salads at pub restaurants, who is somehow excited about organic carrots, or who lists “Plant Based Diet, #SaveTheEarth!!” on their Instagram bio. We get it, you’re healthy.
Despite the social stigma that comes with following a plant-based diet, it is undeniably better for the environment. Statistics show that out of the available 2.5% of freshwater on Earth, over half is used for the livestock industry, and water is needed at every step of production: to hydrate the animals, to grow their food, and to clean and process the meat for human consumption. If you followed a steak from the feedlots to your plate, you’d find it requires a staggering 1,800 gallons of water to produce!
In addition to water usage, the meat industry is one of the largest emitters of Greenhouse Gases. Methane originating from animals’ natural digestive processes is 30-50 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is one of the most significant contributors to climate change. The combination of these two gases interacting in the atmosphere is disatrous for our sensitive climate.
Despite these negative environmental consequences, people’s taste for meat continues to grow, especially in America. From the 14,000 McDonald’s currently operating in the US to our obsession with getting enough daily protein, meat options seem to be everywhere. A study conducted by The Huffington Post showed that Americans ate an average of 12 ounces of meat-based products a day, which is the equivalent of half an entire chicken!
The good news is within the past few years, people have been recognizing the unsustainable effects of consuming so much meat, and many have decided to make a change within their own lives. One Green Planet reports that regularly consuming a plant-based diet prevents 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year.
If you’re especially fond of your weeknight chicken breast or your special-occasion filet mignon, don’t fret: giving up meat entirely is not for everyone. However, replacing meat with other high-protein foods like legumes is not as hard as it seems. That’s why Meatless Monday, an initiative encouraging people all over the world to go without meat for one day of the week, is gaining popularity.
Since Meatless Monday promotes a decrease in overall meat consumption, not an elimination of it altogether, it serves as an accessible outlet for everyday people to contribute to the environmental movement. By choosing to eat plant-based products for one day out of the week, you can reduce your meat consumption by 15% each year -- a significant amount when multiplied by millions of people all over the world.
Want to participate but need some advice on what to eat? Check out Meatless Monday’s Recipe List, which offers hundreds of vegetarian options for plant and meat eaters alike. You'll be surprised how easy it is to eat less animal-based products once you give it a try!
Thanks for reading, and happy Meatless Monday Greenwire! :)