What We Eat Matters for the Climate
According to the United Nations, the global livestock industry is responsible for roughly 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions (includes emissions resulting from related deforestation). Livestock consume more than half of the grain produced in the United States and clearing space for grazing is a leading cause of deforestation in the developing world. Ruminant mammals (cows, sheep, and goats) emit large quantities of methane in digestion, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and the nitrogenous fertilizers used to grow livestock feed crops emit high quantities of nitrous oxide, a gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
A recent study suggested that the environmental impact of red meat production is so significant that dropping red meat one day per week would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as consuming only locally-grown products all week—a staggering figure considering that the average distance our food travels from farm to fork is approximately 1,500 miles.
Read more: Simple and Inexpensive Actions Could Reduce Global Warming Emissions by One Billion Tons