Resources Used in Eating Meat

COOL Cuisine advocates eating less animal products partly because of the resource intensity and environmental impacts on water, land, air, and energy.

More than 80% of farmland is used for livestock but it produces just 18% of food calories and 37% of protein. According to a recent article in The Guardian, avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth.   “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions. (Source, The Guardian) The World Resources Institute has prepared a series of reports about Shifting Diets (full report here). The main recommendations are:
  1. Reduce overconsumption of calories.
  2. Reduce overconsumption of protein by reducing consumption of animal-based foods.
  3. Reduce consumption of beef specifically.

WATER

Avg US citizen eats 185 lbs of meat/year, 64 lb is beef 10 min. shower per day = 9,125 gallons per year Average American’s beef consumption uses 156,000 gallons of water per year Eating no meat saves 339,900 gallons of water per year Help the drought! East less meat! 632 lbs of dairy per year 1 lbs of dairy takes 600 gallons of water to produce Eating no dairy saves 379,200 gallons of water per year Help the drought! Eat less dairy! No meat plus no dairy is equivalent to taking NO SHOWERS for 79 years! (ten minute showers) Eliminating eating 1 lb of beef saves the same about of water as 100 showers. (Could Meatless Mondays be an answer?) beef

ENERGY

We burn enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for twenty days in order to produce 2.2 pounds of beef. (National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan, 2007)  

TREES/FORESTS

  • 1 lb of beef = 55 square feet of forest (45-55 trees)
  • One year using NO paper saves 8.51 trees vs. foregoing 1 lb of beef, which saves 45-55 trees
  • One year eating no beef saves 3,432 trees

CO2 – CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Animal products industry emits 2,964 Million Tons of CO2 per year
  • Prius vs. No Beef: Prius saves 1.7 Tons of CO2 per year. Eating no beef saves 5.5 Tons of CO2 per year. (that’s just beef!)
  • You can drive 600 miles from the same amount of CO2 it takes to produce 1 lb of beef.

Here are some sites with more environmental information:

The Bite Sized Vegan compares resources:

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