By now, I am sure that most of you have heard of Meatless Monday. This trend began in the early 1900s as a way to save food for soldiers, and it was brought back in 2003 in order to save the environment. Removing meat, even for just one meal, can have a huge effect on the environment and human health. On average, Americans eat more than 200 lbs of meat per year--49% of Americans eat meat daily. If you are in need of an informational push to participate in Meatless Mondays, here are some not-so-fun facts:
A meat based diet requires 7 times more land than a plant based diet
50% of corn is grown for livestock
70% of Amazon forest has been deforested for grazing
Livestock production uses about ⅓ of the world’s freshwater
Livestock production accounts for 18% more CO2 emissions than transportation
Livestock production accounts for 65% of human related nitrous oxide release
Too much red meat has been associated with human heart issues
Cattle raised on a grass fed diet have 2 grams of saturated fat per ounce of meat, factory farmed cattle have about 10 grams of saturated fat per ounce
The percentage of meat farmed in factory farms is about: 95% of pigs, 78% of cattle and 99.9% of chickens
Hormones and antibiotics are often given to farm animals in order to head off any illness from living in close quarters with little outdoor access and abnormal diets. These hormones and antibiotics have been found in humans who consume these products.
Overall, meat is simply not an efficient use of agriculture. When converting nutrients from plants into meat product, the ratio is about six to one. Beef tends to be the least environmentally friendly meat because it produces twice the emissions of pork, four times the emissions of chicken, and thirteen times the emissions of vegetable protein. Emissions aside, meat production accounts for so much environmental damage, such as: topsoil erosion, water pollution, soil degradation, and execution of native carnivores. All things considered, we throw away about 20% of the meat that we produce.
When debating whether giving up meat for one day per week is worth it, think of this: If you participated in Meatless Monday for one whole year, this would have the same reduction in your carbon footprint as not driving your car for one whole month. So, I challenge all of you to kick off Earth Month by pledging to try Meatless Mondays during April!