Livestock constitutes nearly 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector. The process of getting meat from the field to the factory to your plate is ridden with environmental costs. Substances that contribute to air pollution or climate change are secreted into the atmosphere during each phase of the livestock process. This means that while animals are growing up, being killed, processed, and shipped the planet’s climate is changing for the worse. For example, during the respiratory process all animals emit carbon dioxide. The increase in this greenhouse gas and others is what causes global warming. Animals are literally burping and farting so much that our climate is getting hotter and hotter. Additionally, methane, nitrous oxides, and ammonia seep into the air out of animal manure. Overall, animals and cattle specifically are a major source of the changes that our climate is experiencing.
Other reasons to reduce your meat consumption are due to the copious amount of water that animals require and to the effects for forested areas from cattle ranches. To produce one pound of beef takes 5,000 gallons of water. You can save more water by eating one less pound of beef than you can by not taking a shower for one year. If everyone cut meat out of one meal there would be significant implications for our climate and water system. Furthermore, forests are being destroyed in order to make room for livestock. “The FAO estimates that in the Amazon alone, around 70% of deforested lands were turned into livestock pasture.” At this rate, the beautiful forests of our world will be gone and livestock will begin to roam in their places.
Giving up meat for a lifetime is a huge commitment, but we urge everyone to consider giving up meat for at least one meal or lowering your intake. On March 1, three out of the four UCSB residential dining commons will be going beefless while one will be going meatless. This is the perfect opportunity for everyone to help climate change through better dietary choices. So, in response to the question of whether or not eating meat for a meal will make a difference, we say “YES! Definitely! Positively! Absolutely!”
-Real Food Challenge Interns