Choosing a Vegetarian Diet: Would You Do it for the Environment?

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There are many reasons to choose a vegetarian diet, and not every vegetarian has the same ones. Often people cite the question of animal rights as a reason to go vegetarian. There are many arguments to be made on this front, but the unfortunate truth is that this argument doesn't work for everyone.

Ok, so you're not convinced by videos of the miserable state of animals raised in factory farms? Let's put that argument aside for a moment and move to a different one: the environmental argument.

There are more and more environmental reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet. A recent report shows that if meat and dairy consumption continue to rise at current rates, the greenhouse gases caused by meat production will go up 80 percent.

"The average efficiency of livestock converting plant feed to meat is less than 3%, and as we eat more meat, more arable cultivation is turned over to producing feedstock for animals that provide meat for humans," Bojana Bajzelj, from the University of Cambridge, told BBC News. "The losses at each stage are large, and as humans globally eat more and more meat, conversion from plants to food becomes less and less efficient, driving agricultural expansion and releasing more greenhouse gases. Agricultural practices are not necessarily at fault here - but our choice of food is."

Which means we need to... eat more plants.

Even cutting meat consumption to one or two times a week can make a big difference. In fact, according to the Environmnetal Working Group, if everyone in the U.S. chose to not eat meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be equal to taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Eating one less burger a week is like taking your car off the road for 320 miles.

And that's just choosing to cut out meat one day a week. Imagine if you did it for two? Or three? Or four? Or completely? If everyone in the US chose a vegetarian diet it would be similar to taking 46 million cars off the rode. And hey, imagine if you were on a vegetarian diet and cycling everywhere? The potential for change is pretty big.

That being said, climate change will not be solved by individual actions alone. We obviously need an infrastructure in place that has better policies, and that includes agriculture. But for the time being, choosing to eat a vegetarian diet, even part of the time, is a step in the right direction.

Related on Organic Authority

What if an Entire Country Adopted a Vegan Diet?

Benefits of Being Vegetarian Include Half the CO2 Emissions Meat Eaters Produce

Vegetarian Diet Decreases Environmental Impact By at Least 30 Percent

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