Connect with us

College Voices

How Becoming Meat-Conscious Can Repair the Planet



Our planet needs help. There are steps we need to take towards reducing our impact on the Earth. Steps such as not using straws and reducing plastic waste do help reduce our footprints. However, there is another small step you can take to help the environment.

By becoming meat conscious, you can make a serious stride towards repairing our Earth. This step is not eliminating meat intake but rather a reduction.

The meat industry’s carbon footprint, global greenhouse gas emissions, and excessive water usage need to be addressed in order to understand its effect on the Earth.

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is “the amount of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.”

Currently, the carbon footprint attributed to the food industry is 20%. Of that percentage, 75% consists of meat and dairy. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains possess low carbon footprints. The percentage is so high due to its connection with livestock farming.

Livestock farming is responsible for 20%-50% of greenhouse gases created by man. When we eat, we do contribute greenhouse gas emissions; however, different diets emit different amounts.

An avid meat-eater could have a possible carbon footprint of 3.3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, while a vegan’s diet could emit up to 1.5 tons. By cutting red meat alone and eating chicken, you can reduce your footprint by a quarter.

The beef industry alone is one of the most prominent reasons for the deforestation of the Amazon. Since 1970, over 90% of the Amazon rainforest was wiped for grazing livestock.

Livestock takes up one-third of the planet.  Livestock farming releases the biggest amount of greenhouse gases than any other single human activity.

Water Intake

Water is a finite necessity for all living things on Earth. It is rich is some areas of the world, and very scarce in others. Livestock uses a lot of water. To put it into perspective, for every pound of beef, up to 2,000 gallons of water is used. Plant-based foods use up to 200 gallons of water. Meat needs 10-times more water than plant-based foods.

The average American eats up to 193 pounds of beef and that translates to about 386,000 gallons of water used a year. That’s a lot of water.  A cow typically lives on livestock for about 24 months, continually drinking 2 gallons per 100 pounds of their body weight.

The average cattle weigh up to 2,400 pounds which translates to about 48 gallons of water a day. In the U.S. alone, more than 90% of ground and surface water is used for agriculture.

Overall, reducing your meat intake will benefit both the environment and your health. Red meat heightens the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

The meat industry is more destructive than the gases emitted from driving. By reducing red meat intake, it will lessen water usage and greenhouse gas emission. This is a step that is an instant way of reducing your carbon footprint.  It is time to take ownership of our footprint. We caused the damage and we have a chance to repair it.

By: Vivianna Shields