MASSIVE REDUCTION IN CO2 EMISSIONS
If every American ate one less serving of chicken per week, it would save the same amount of CO2 emissions as taking 500,000 cars off the road.
LESS WASTE EXCREMENT PRODUCED
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says animals bred for food produce 500 million tons of manure a year — that’s more excrement than the entire human population of the U.S. Without adequate processing facilities, this waste then ends up polluting the country's rivers and lakes.
REDUCTION IN INDIVIDUALS' CARBON FOOTPRINT
73 per cent — that’s how much each person’s food carbon footprint could be reduced by if they were to cut meat and dairy products out of their diet, according to researchers at the University of Oxford.
HUGE QUANTITIES OF WATER SAVED
Eating one less pound of meat saves more water than not taking a shower for six months.
LESS WATER REQUIRED TO GROW CROPS
It takes just 25 gallons of water to grow one pound of wheat, but 5,000 gallons of water to grow the same amount of beef.
LIVESTOCK CONTRIBUTES TO 15%+ CO2 EMISSIONS
According to the U.N., the livestock industry contributes more than 15 percent of global carbon emissions. So when consumers throw out meat, they are wasting some of the most environmentally costly foods on the planet.
THE SCALE OF FOOD WASTE IS COUNTRY SIZED
If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter after the U.S. and China, says the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
30% OF THE EARTHS LAND MASS WOULD FREE UP
Rearing animals for food uses 30% of the Earth's land mass — which is roughly the same size area as Asia.
6M HECTARES EACH YEAR GAINED BACK
In its latest food report, Friends of the Earth estimates that around 6m hectares of forest land, and a similar amount of peat and wetlands, is converted to farmland per year. To put it in perspective, that's an area roughly the size of Latvia.
BIG REDUCTION IS U.S. FOREST FIRES
The logging and ranching industries have been responsible for the majority of Amazon Rainforest fires, while clearing land for cattle. The WWF says beef and soy are the leading contributors to global deforestation, while production of meat, dairy, poultry and seafood also contributes to habitat loss and water usage.
Torben Lonne, editor-in-chief at DIVEIN.com, an online magazine focused on scuba diving, travel and how we can make a positive impact on the environment.
One of the biggest issues with intensive animal farms, also known as CAFOs, is that they account for over 50% of man-made greenhouse gases. Furthermore, the runoff from livestock farms causes near-irreversible water pollution through a process called eutrophication. The water becomes overloaded with nutrients, leading to an unnatural increase in marine plant life such as algae, unbalancing the natural eco-system and causing the loss of aquatic fish and wildlife.
As a professional diver, I have witnessed these changes first-hand, in many corners of the world. What's scary is that these environmental changes are happening much faster than most people would like to believe, and as meat-production ramps up to feed our increasing global population, the outlook is rather apocalyptic.
In my opinion, change must happen immediately if we have any hope of preserving the marine biodiversity of our planet.
With The Economist declaring 2019 'the year of the vegan', the U.S. dairy industry taking some heavy hits, and big chains and corporations such as Burger King and Tyson Foods now dabbling in the meat-free market, the rise of veganism looks set to continue.
As the world's population continues to grow and the struggle for basic resources, such as food and water, as well as space, intensifies across the globe, the argument for a diet that requires less grain, land and water is certainly a valid one.
However, despite the headlines surrounding an apparent vegan boom, only six per cent of the U.S.'s population identify as vegans, so expecting the entire nation to ditch their steaks just yet seems unlikely. Yet, as our infographic illustrates above, even small reductions in meat and dairy intake can have a significant impact on our environment. Food for thought...
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