The evidence is clear-as a society, we need to be more environmentally conscious. Whether one believes in all the claims of global warming or not, it is an indisputable fact that we need to take better care of our environment.
In the last 10 years, environmental consciousness has gripped America to the point that, today, 'Going Green' is no longer a fringe idea-it's mainstream.
A simple trip to Wal-Mart makes it clear just how 'green' consumer markets have become. You can buy green clothes, green dish soap, green make-up, green shampoos. If it's a consumer product, chances are that a 'green' option is available.
Recent studies have proven that many Americans are doing things to help the environment that really don't help the environment all that much.
Actions such as unplugging appliances when they are not in use and recycling glass bottles are definitely environmentally responsible activities, but they are not going to save the planet. In this article we are going to hit the average American where it hurts-the belly!
The average American consumes a diet that is rich in meat, milk, and eggs. Unfortunately, these foods literally destroy the environment. Actually, let's rephrase that last sentence.
Meat, milk and eggs do not destroy the environment-the industry that produces them in mass, however, does. Raising cows, pigs, and chickens for the sole purpose of producing meat, milk, and eggs is known as animal agriculture.
The animal agriculture industry is one of the world's leading emitters of three of the most environmentally harmful gases-carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
In 2006, a United Nations report, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, discovered that the meat industry (animal agriculture) produced more greenhouse gases than all the SUV's, cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined!
This is mind boggling. One would not naturally combine the food industry with greenhouse gases and environmental damage, right? When we think of 'going green' we think of using less electricity and gasoline, but food?
Let's break down why agricultural farming has such an atrocious impact on the environment.
- Methane: The United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated methane is 20 times as powerful as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in our atmosphere. In a standard chicken farm, 1 chicken may take up an average of 1 square foot of living space. Let's just say the living quarters are cramped. The tens of thousands of chickens that are crammed into such a small living space produce an enormous amount of methane; furthermore, you multiply this by the thousands of chicken farms across the U.S. and you get a very big number and a very big problem.
- Nitrous Oxide: In the United Nations report referenced above, the authors stated that nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Furthermore, according to the U.N. report, 65% of the worldwide nitrous oxide emissions are the result of animal agriculture!
Quite startling isn't it? Most people eat meat everyday without a second thought of how the food is processed, how the animals are raised, etc.
Here's another mind-boggling statistic:
The Environmental Defense Fund is a non-profit agency committed to helping businesses, governments, and communities solve hard environmental problems with practical solutions. They have estimated that if each American would skip one meal of chicken per week, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than 500,000 cars off U.S. roads!
So, the fact that animal agriculture is an environmental problem is not really a debatable issue. The question is what can we do to solve the problem?
Well, one way to significantly help the environment is to begin eating less meat. It doesn't mean you have to become a full-fledged vegan or vegetarian, but you could choose one day a week to eat a vegetable-based diet.
It's beyond the scope of this article to delve into the physical benefits of a plant-based diet versus an animal-based diet or into the profit-generating potential of currency trading, but consuming a plant-based diet once a week will not only help the environment, but it will also help your body.
So, you are killing two birds with one stone! Help the environment and help your body at the same time.
As you can see, you don't have to go out and buy a new Toyota Prius to positively impact the environment. Although it may be a little difficult at first, by cutting back on the animal-based portion of your diet, you will be helping decrease the demand for animal-based food products, which means that agriculture farmers will subsequently decrease the supply of animals.
In conclusion, this would mean it would ultimately lead to a cleaner, healthier environment.