Your daily food choices have a direct impact on the health of the planet. Everything we consume — from lettuce and soy milk to shredded cheese and beef — requires resources to produce. But some foods are more resource intensive than others. There’s an overwhelming body of research showing that, when it comes to agriculture, meat production has the most significant impact on the environment and climate change. Livestock production alone contributes an estimated 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities — more than the entire transportation sector.
This isn’t hard to picture. Raising billions of heads of livestock requires unimaginable quantities of land, feed, water, and energy. But it doesn’t end there. After the animals are grown, they require more resources in order to process, store, and transport the final product. And when it comes to resource-intensive livestock, the cattle industry is the gravest offender. Ruminant animals, like cattle, produce methane gas as part of their digestion, and this process alone is responsible for nearly a third of all the emissions from the agricultural sector.
The consensus amongst the scientific community is that the amount of greenhouse gases in the air has increased to dangerous levels, threatening our planet and normal way of life. We see examples of climate change every day: rising sea levels, hotter temperatures, and species extinction. There’s also been an increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions; just look at the recent bout of hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean, or the wildfires that continue to ravage Oregon, California, and Washington.
The environmental impact of food production can appear daunting and overwhelming — but it shouldn’t. Because unlike many of the world’s issues, there’s something we can actually do to fix this problem: eat responsibility.
Eat more plant-based meals and significantly reduce your dairy and meat consumption.
You can start with adopting Meatless Monday, which simply suggests cutting out any animal products for one day a week. You can also make a conscious effort to reduce your food waste. That means eating food before it spoils and saving leftovers. There’s also a number of foods that are more environmentally sustainable, such as lentils, soy beans (and tofu), tomatoes (when grown locally), peas, broccoli, and oranges. Supporting local farmers and buying local produce is another good way to minimize the environmental impacts of your meals. This Monday, show you commitment to the environment by eating sustainable foods.
Meatless Monday Tips for Plant-based Eating
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your meals
- Make meals from the Meatless Monday recipe gallery
- Stock your pantry with plant-based staples for quick and easy meals
- Enjoy a wide variety of plant-based proteins
- Load up your spice cabinet for flavorful meatless meals
- Reduce food waste with inexpensive foods that won’t go bad
- Get the whole family involved with The Kids Cook Monday meatless recipes