The most prominent greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, Ozone, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and Chlorofluorocarbons. The rise in greenhouse gas emissions over the last 200 years is the cause of Global Warming and Climate Change. The food industry currently is responsible for around 1/5 of greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the meat and dairy industry play the largest role. 1/3 of the fossil fuels that the US produces are used to fuel the meat industry. Although it is not widely known, people often eat more meat than is recommended nutritionally. Reducing the amount of meat that one eats will reduce the demand for meat. When the demand for meat decreases there will also be a decrease in the need to transport meat, to clear land, to use fertilizer, to breed cattle, and overall food waste. All of these things contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and so their reduction would have a tremendous impact on the environment.
What you need to know
What are the effects of climate change? Why should you care?
Climate change will cause a shift in temperatures causing the average temperature of the earth to increase (also known as global warming). This increase in the earths temperature is cause by the enhanced greenhouse gas effect which is due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The most dramatic effects of climate change are changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, melting arctic ice, more intense storms, and increasing drought and heat waves. These emissions also result in air pollution and thus respiratory illnesses. If emissions are not reduced dramatically the earth will soon reach a change in temperature in which the results would be exponential and the damage will be irreversible and ultimately earth will be uninhabitable.
How does meat contribute?
If all the cows in the world were to form their own country they would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Although that is not a realistic situation it get’s at a very real problem which is that cows alone are responsible for a very high number of greenhouse gas emissions. Cows burp methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases and also excrete it in their manure. Cows that are bred by the meat industry burp a lot more than they would normally and this is because they are fed the incorrect foods to speed up their growth to meat the high demand for beef. Cows are simply one example of a meat source that emit lots of greenhouse gases. The energy required to produce meat is exponentially more than that required to produce vegetables and other food sources. It takes 229 pounds of water to produce 1 pound of rice and it takes more than 20,000 pounds of water to produce a pound of beef. The transportation and filtration of water adds even more emissions. These meats are shipped thousands of miles away to reach the supermarket and the technology required to keep them cold also requires a lot of energy.
What you can do
- Pay attention to what you are eating. If you do eat meat make an effort to support local farms. Smaller farming operations have lower carbon footprints and also will require less refrigeration and transportation to be delivered to your local supermarket. Fish have a smaller carbon footprint than meat but this is lowest when the fish are wild-caught. Simply take a little extra time to read the labels on the packages of the meat that you are buying and then you can make an informed decision as to whether or not the product you are buying is contributing unnecessarily to greenhouse gas emissions.
- The next thing that you can do is to make an effort to switch out meat in some of your meals for fish or a plant-based protein source. As explained above, people typically eat more meat than their body actually needs. This extra protein comes out in urine and is simply wasted. Maybe you are someone who typically eats meat with all three meals. My suggestion to you would be skipping it at breakfast and replacing it with another protein source. The less meat you eat the larger the impact on the environment. Every time you make the decision not to have meat in your meal (as long as you don’t waste it instead) you are reducing your carbon footprint.
How will you help?
Make pescatarian and vegetarian recipes. Be vocal about it! Share these recipes with your friends and family and spread the word about why what you’re eating is better for the environment.
I have made an account on TikTok where I share pescatarian and vegetarian recipes. If there are vegetarian or pescatarian foods that you would like to make but don’t have a recipe; reach out to me and I will put together a video. If you have recipes you would like to share with me and wouldn’t mind me posting; that would be much appreciated too. Also show love to my page, and give me feedback. The more attention my account gets the more my videos will show up on other peoples for you page’s and have the potential to inspire others to reduce their meat consumption.
My TikTok is veggiepescierecipes feel free to check it out if you need recipe suggestions.