We all know many people choose to eat a vegetarian diet as a personal health choice or in support of animal rights - but the newest reason to adopt a vegetarian diet is to save the environment!
According to GoVeg.com, eating one meal that contains meat is equivalent to leveling 55 square feet of rain forest, or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain.
Growing all the crops to feed the farmed animals that we eat requires massive amounts of water and land - in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food. Our hamburgers and steaks are also taking a toll on our supply of fuel and other nonrenewable resources - about one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the farmed animal industry.
Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States, (about 86,000 pounds per second), and since factory farms don't have sewage treatment systems as our cities and towns do, this concentrated slop ends up polluting water, destroying topsoil, and contaminating air.
A major 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. Raising animals for food, the report said, is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Livestock's contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale …."
Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it's the overuse of resources, unchecked water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth.
Just think - if you eat only one vegetarian meal a day, you are making a difference to help the environment and improve your health! GoVeg.com has great vegetarian starter kits and recipes, and almost all restaurants serve vegetarian fare these days. It's not hard to go green by eating green, too!