At Good Intent, it’s our primary goal to provide support for those interested in cutting down on personal waste in an effort to limit their environmental impact. Waste - and specifically plastic waste - is a popular and urgent topic. But, you may have heard that there is one issue even more critical to our planet’s health – animal agriculture. An article published by UN Environment calls meat the world’s most urgent problem. So why hasn’t this profoundly important topic gained the same traction as other environmental movements? Determining what we eat is a deeply personal choice, and the idea of dramatically overhauling our diets is consequently unpopular. Many people find just the words ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ to be polarizing and offensive. But we have good news – eating less, not none, is helpful too! If you’re looking for some motivation to eat fewer animal foods, here are some compelling reasons.
Limiting your animal-food intake is good for your health.
Studies have shown that eating a more plant-based diet is linked to lower cholesterol, lower body mass index (BMI) and lower risk of diabetes. A Harvard study found that eating red meat (steak, hamburger, pork) and eating processed meat (hot dogs, sausage, bacon – yes, bacon) increased the risk of premature death by 13% and 20% respectively. In fact, the correlation between processed meat and cancer is so certain that the World Health Organization groups it with smoking and asbestos in terms of the strength of scientific evidence.
A large percentage of U.S. animal foods are inhumanely produced.
Most (95%) of U.S. meat, dairy, and eggs are sourced from factory farms, and every category of animal food has its own sad story. Did you know that there are two breeds of chickens – meat (broiler) chickens and egg chickens? When egg chickens are born male, they can’t be used for meat or eggs, so they are killed – often in some horrific manner like suffocating or grinding. Did you know that turkeys have been selectively bred to grow faster and produce more meat? As a result, turkeys often have difficulty breathing and walking, and factory turkeys are incapable of reproducing on their own. If you’d like to learn more of the story, we recommend this book.
Transitioning to a more plant-based diet will reduce your environmental footprint. A lot!
Animal agriculture is already a major player in climate change, contributing to 14.5% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and covering 43% of the world’s desert and ice-free land. A recent article in Nature Magazine predicts that the environmental pressures of our food system will grow up to 92% by 2050, and concludes that among multiple mitigation scenarios, dietary changes would contribute to the greatest reductions in GHG emissions. A Science Magazine article concludes that moving from current diets to plant-based diets would reduce the food system’s GHG emissions by 49%. In the U.S., where meat consumption per capita is greater than the global average, food GHG emissions would be reduced by up to 73%!
If you are determined to eat less meat and are wondering how to get started, you might try these ideas:
- Cut out beef. Beef is the single most climate-damaging food, contributing to 34% of diet-related GHG emissions.
Observe Meatless Monday.
Limit yourself to one meal with meat per day.
- Consider the vegetarian menu next time you go out to a restaurant. As an added bonus, you may save a few dollars!