Did you know that the single most important thing you could do to reduce your carbon footprint is to cut down on your consumption of meat? The meat industry is very harmful to the environment. One third of all farm land in the world is used to grow crops to feed livestock. If these crops were used to feed human beings directly, we could produce ten times as much from the same land. Cattle cause the most environmental damage of any species (apart from humans), contributing to soil erosion and desertification. Of the rainforest lost each year, 70% is turned into pasture for beef cattle.
According to the UN, the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions – more than all the planes, trains and cars on the planet put together. Farm animals produce 37% of global emissions of methane, which is 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming.
The meat industry is very inefficient in its use of water. It takes 16,000 litres of water to produce a single kilo of beef. Agriculture is a major source of water pollution too, with agricultural pesticides, fertilisers and manure leaking into groundwater and eventually into the sea.
Some people worry that becoming vegetarian will mean they don’t get enough protein. The truth is, all vegetables contain protein, and in Ireland we already consume twice the amount of protein recommended by the World Health Organisation. Lentils, beans, grains like quinoa, brown rice and wheat, as well as nuts, peas, chickpeas, spinach and broccoli contain plenty of protein.
Just love meat? Why not join Paul McCartney and go for Meat Free Mondays?
Go meat-free one day a week and you could:
- Save 378,000 litres of water
- Save 245 pounds of grain
- Save 7,700 square feet of rainforest
- Save 70 litres of oil
- Reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
What have you got to lose?