Did you know that nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions* come from livestock? Or that cattle raised for beef, milk, and other products account for about 65% of livestock emissions?
These numbers point to an enormous problem, but also suggest that one small change–eating less meat, and in particular, less beef–could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which cause rapid climate change that threatens people’s lives, livelihoods, and property, especially among the world’s most vulnerable.
In fact, research published this summer shows that, if everyone in the United States simply substituted beans instead of beef on our plates, we could meet 46-74% of the greenhouse reductions we pledged to achieve by 2020, and free up over 40% of our cropland! Thus, meaningful improvements in dietary sustainability don’t have to take the form of all-out vegetarianism or veganism.
In addition to swapping beans for beef, consider designating one or more “meatless” days every week, or limiting the amount of meat you consume on any given day. Start by building your list of hearty vegetarian recipes that can be part of your routine diet. That way, you’ll always have something at hand, and practicing good environmental stewardship will become second nature.
This is one change that each of us can make that has the potential to have a huge impact.
* In terms of carbon dioxide equivalent. (Many gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, are even more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat and causing a “greenhouse effect”. To account for these differences and enable comparisons of different activities’ greenhouse impacts, the amounts of greenhouse gases emitted are converted to units of carbon dioxide equivalence.)