Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. – Albert Einstein
Our Going Part-Time Vegetarian for Planet Earth article gives you tips to gradually integrate meatless meals into your diet. But why should you? It's true that eating grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit is healthier for you than a diet predominantly made up of processed foods or large amounts of animal products. But taking diet and the whole issue of animal welfare out of the equation, the impact food animals have on the environment should be reason enough for anyone to consider becoming a vegetarian. According to Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic: When You're Addicted to the Planet , eating 20 percent less meat is the equivalent of switching from a sedan to a Prius. The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom adds that going vegetarian “is one of the easiest ways to lessen your environmental impact,” because it reduces your carbon footprint, saves water, and saves land.
BEING VEGETARIAN CAN REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
- It only takes 0.4 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce a cup of broccoli, a cup of eggplant, 4 ounces of cauliflower, and 8 ounces of rice, but it takes 10 pounds of carbon dioxide (25 times as much) to produce just one 6-ounce beef steak.
- By eating vegetarian foods, you will help to conserve non-renewable sources of energy.
- Fossil fuels are used to transport animals and to power the production of their feed. If everyone in the United States went vegetarian for a single day, they would prevent 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions and save 70 million gallons of gasoline.
BEING VEGETARIAN CAN SAVE WATER
- Meat production, especially the feeding of cattle, is a water-intensive process. The amount of water used by vegetarians is 300 gallons a day as compared to the 4,000 gallons used by non-vegetarians.
- Livestock production accounts for over 8 percent of global human water consumption: if everyone in the United States went vegetarian for a single day, they would save 100 billion gallons of water.
- Going vegetarian also reduces some of the manure, antibiotics, and hormones that find their way into our water system.
BEING VEGETARIAN CAN SAVE LAND
- 30 percent of the earth's entire land surface is used for raising farm animals: if everyone in the United States went vegetarian for a single day they would save 3 million acres of land and prevent 3 million tons of soil erosion.
- A typical meat eater's diet requires 2.5 times the amount of land that a vegetarian's diet does.
- A farmer can feed up to 30 people throughout the year with vegetables, fruits, and cereals produced on less than 2.5 acres of land, but if the same area were used for the production of eggs, milk, and/or meat, it would only feed 5-10 people.
- Forests in Brazil and other tropical regions are destroyed to make room for raising livestock animals: if the meat industry loses some of its support through vegetarianism, it will directly save the forests.