Eat Less Meat
“The Environmental Crisis”- a scary, daunting, even paralyzing phrase that is currently being passed around conversations and media outlets all over the world. Though the phrase was all too often met with rolled eyes 10 years ago, it has now become a widely accepted call for change. And with the general public hopping on the bandwagon a little late, we are faced with a sense of urgency and seriousness.
I would consider myself a novice environmental steward. I care deeply about the outdoor spaces that give me room to play, and the diverse creatures sharing in life’s journey. But I am still learning how my individual choices both positively and negatively affect the planet...and to be honest, it can all be quite overwhelming. It seems like there is constant noise about what you should and should not do to contribute to the health of our world: (cue paralyzing effect). But in these moments I reflect on one of my favorite quotes on the topic by Katie Boue, “There is no such thing as a perfect environmentalist” (Follow her on Instagram @katieboue). With this in mind, I remember that it is the small changes made by everyone that really make a difference.
As it turns out, what we choose to eat can have one of the biggest environmental impacts. According to a University of Oxford Study, food production is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse emissions, contributing to global warming and biodiversity loss. Wow. And more specifically, it is the meat and dairy industries that have an enormous impact. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, livestock accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases each year. *Mind explosion*.
This fact terrified me, and as a result, I made the conscious decision a few years ago to eat less meat (especially red meats with the biggest impact). If you can go full vegan, more power to you- but making small modifications in your diet to eat less meat can still significantly lessen your climate footprint. Here are a few statistics to put things into perspective:
Eating a pound of beef has more impact on climate change than burning a gallon of gasoline
Going vegetarian 5 days a week reduces greenhouse gas emissions & land use by 45%
If the average American replaced a third of the beef he or she eats with pork, poultry or legumes, his or her food related emissions would still fall by around 13%
A planet under duress requires action by everyone- being more mindful about what we put on our plates is one of the easiest, most effective ways to do our part. The environmental crisis may seem like it's reached the point of no return, but in the words of Yvon Chouinard, “The solution might be to turn around and take a forward step.”