The earth is a living system just as our bodies are. We only get one planet; we cannot trade it in for another. It’s currently the only place to live, and I wouldn’t put my money on moving to Mars just yet.
Like Personal Growth on Facebook
You’ve seen the news about climate change, and how our activity is changing our planet in a negative way, but did you know that it’s your food, not your car, that contributes to most of the earth warming, atmospheric CO2 that threatens our planet?
That’s right! Factory farming has replaced small and medium-sized dairy and beef farming, and these monstrosities feed thousands of cattle at one time. To boost production, factory farms replaced grazing with feeding, meaning replacing grass, a cow’s natural diet, with grain. Consequently, beef production contributes more to climate change than automobiles, with the release of greenhouse gases from agricultural activities and the cows themselves hitting all-time highs. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some facts.
Cattle Harm Topsoil
The United States uses over 746 billion acres to grow the grain that feeds the livestock in beef production. Factory, or industrial as they’re also called, farms are responsible for accelerating topsoil erosion, because their needs demand more than half of the grain grown in the U.S. and almost 40 percent of grain grown in the rest of the world. Because of the constant planting and replanting without allowing the soil its proper rest, the U.S. loses 80 percent of its cropland’s topsoil 13 times faster than is sustainable. In fact, Iowa lost one-half its richest soil in just 150 years of farming. It took thousands of years to form that topsoil, and factory farm demand prevents the soil from rebuilding.
Cattle Harm Water Supplies
Agriculture’s appetite for fresh water places the greatest demand on a critically dwindling water supply in the drought-ridden U.S. Are you sitting down? Unbelievably, it takes 23,417 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of edible beef; yes, you read that correctly. If we’d each limit or end our beef consumption, we’d have precious water available to grow less thirsty and healthier foods, not to mention help those states suffering severely from drought. With a higher demand for healthy grains, fruits and vegetables, the cost of eating healthy will fall and more whole grain foods will reach our grocers’ shelves.
More Trees And Cleaner Air
The meat industry produces 14.5 percent of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, but it’s also responsible for deforestation, especially that seen in rainforest destruction. Avoiding beef means avoiding food that adds pollution while destroying the very mechanism that makes more air: trees! When you stop eating beef, you support forest conservation and protect the world’s oxygen producing, life-sustaining forest growth.
To add insult to injury, grain-fed cattle are miserable and produce more gas in their intestines by eating a diet of grain they were not designed to consume. In fact, grain-fed cattle developed so much gas in 2011, belching created 39 percent of agriculture’s greenhouse gases in 2011. I know it sounds silly, but it’s something to think about, especially considering how harmful grain is to the cattle alongside what it’s doing to our planet.
You Can Make A Difference
About now, I hope you’re thinking, “How can one person change all of this?” The first step is changing your diet. The next time you go out to eat, order dishes made with chicken or fish, instead of beef; better yet, order vegetarian or vegan. If you absolutely cannot give up your meat, however, avoid the hamburger and look for a chicken or fish sandwich or a large chicken Caesar salad.
If you’re feeling adventurous, ground buffalo, which is grass fed, makes a yummy meatloaf, and summer is perfect time to incorporate just a few meatless meals in to your routine, especially when salads are more popular than the heavier meals of fall and winter.
Use this dietary change to explore recipes from traditionally beef-free cultures, such as the incredibly flavorful Indian cuisine, and encourage friends and family to join you by making a series of small changes. Try replacing ground beef with ground turkey in chili, lasagna and other dishes you usually make with ground beef.
Change isn’t always easy but it needn’t be overwhelming. Eating less or no beef can slow climate change, is less expensive than retrofitting your home with solar panels and supports a healthier lifestyle. As more people change their diets, ending beef’s attraction, farms will also need to shift their focus to offer a greater variety of protein options. Best of all, with awareness and perseverance, you can help slow climate change by changing just ingredient in your meal plans.