About six months ago, I considered making a major change in my diet. I was going to give up meat.
I wasn't sure I could take the leap to become vegan, but I knew I wanted to do something about my eating habits, both for health reasons and environmental ones. So I did my best to start cutting back on the meat I ate. First I tried to eliminate red meat and then go meatless three days a week.
I'll admit, it was a struggle at first. Then over the summer, I spent three weeks volunteering abroad. There, I met some wonderful people who were very passionate about their vegetarian and vegan diets, and I witnessed firsthand some of the effects of climate change (which has a stronger link to animal agriculture than you might think).
When I came home, I knew it was time to make the change, and I went cold turkey. It has been three months since then, and I have eaten essentially no meat since.
I have been asked several times since then why I decided to eliminate meat from my diet. Aside from being an avid animal lover, I do my best to explain the astounding effects that the meat industry has on the environment.
So, here are some facts you might be interested to know:
- Animal agriculture accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions; that's more than all of the emissions coming from all forms of transportation combined.
- Methane, which cows are estimated to produce 150 billion gallons of every day, is 20 to 100 times more impactful on the environment than carbon dioxide.
- Emissions from agriculture are projected to increase 80 percent by the year 2050.
- Animal agriculture uses 34 to 76 trillion gallons of water annually.
- About 2500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91 percent of the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest.
And there are countless more statistics similar to these.
When I learned all of this information, I was shocked, but it is these statistics that motivate me when I'm tempted to break my diet. I hope to keep working on finding healthy alternatives to meat, and to eventually become vegan and eliminate all animal products from my diet.
I realize this diet is not for everyone, and I don't try to force it on anyone I know or look down on anyone who chooses to eat meat. But I would like to encourage anyone who is considering going vegetarian to give it a try. It is a healthier, more environmentally conscious, and kinder way of living.