The Case for Plant-Based Diets: Sustainability

The Case for Plant-Based Diets: Sustainability

Going plant-based has many benefits, but one of largest benefits is the sustainability results that comes from consuming less meat and dairy. 

 

1. Resources

1,110 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, and 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent are saved daily from a plant-based diet.1


50% of grains are consumed by animals in the livestock industry and more than half of all water in the United States is used for livestock.2


Did you know that 821 million people suffer from starvation due to a lack of resources?3


The grain that is used for livestock in the US could feed over 800 million people.4

 

    Livestock accounts for 45% of the world's total land usage. One acre of land can produce 250 pounds of meat, or 24,670 pounds of plant-based food.5
    Water used to cook one hamburger, is the same as showering for two months.6


     
    2. The Planet


    Many say fish-less oceans are the future, which should come as no surprise given 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish are thrown out yearly.7


    One to two acres of forest are destroyed for animal livestock every minute and livestock is to blame for 91% of the Amazon destruction.8


    3. Carbon Emissions 


    One hamburger is equivalent to running your car for three weeks in CO2 emissions.9


    There could be a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by shifting to more sustainable, plant-based diets.10


    The animal agriculture industry generates nearly a fourth of total greenhouse gas emissions.11


    If every American reduced their chicken intake by one serving weekly, the result would be the same as taking 500,000 cars from the road.5


      Sources

      Scarborough, Peter. "Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans in the UK." Climatic Change, July 2015., Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 179-192.   

      Ranganathan, Janet & Waite, Richard. "Sustainable Diets: What You Need to Know in 12 Charts". World Resources Institute. April 2016.

      "Executive Summary: Feed Supply". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  

      “Quick Facts: What You Need to Know about Global Hunger.” Mercy Corps, 20 Sept. 2019.

      “U.S. Could Feed 800 Million People with Grain That Livestock Eat, Cornell Ecologist Advises Animal Scientists.” Cornell Chronicle, 7 Aug. 1997.

      “Can Vegetarianism Save the World? Nitty-Gritty.” STANFORD Magazine, Stanford University.

      Beckett, J.L., & Oltjen, J.W., "Estimation of the Water Requirement for Beef Production in the United States". Journal of Animal Science. 1993. 71:818-826. 

      Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print

      Roach, John. "Seafood May Be Gone by 2048, Study Says". National Geographic News. November 2, 2006. 

      Daniele Fanelli. "Meat Is Murder on the Environment". New Scientist.

      Margulis, Sergio. "Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon". World Bank Working Paper No. 22. 2003. 

      Tabuchi, Hiroko, Rigny, Claire & White, Jeremy. "Amazon Deforestation, Once Tames, Comes Roaring Back". New York Times. February 2017 

      10 Gustin, Georgina. “Can a Climate Conscious Diet Include Meat or Dairy?” InsideClimate News, 18 Sept. 2019.

      11 "Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome 2006. 

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