5 Environmental Benefits of Going Meatless

Throughout March, Herrera’s team participated in the Meatless Monday challenge, substituting meat for delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes once every week. This annual challenge helps our team eat more sustainably, while trying new recipes along the way. Here are 5 environmental benefits of going meatless!

1. Save Water

Reducing your meat intake can save large amounts of water. One quarter pound of beef requires 450 gallons of water to produce. This estimate includes water used for animal feed, production, slaughtering, and processing. Nevertheless, cutting back on just one pound of meat per week can save an estimated 1,581 gallons of water, the equivalent of about 100 showers from the average American.

2. Reduce Pollution in Rivers, Oceans, and Streams

Industrial livestock operations in the U.S. account for 1 billion tons of phosphorus and nitrogen-rich waste per year. These pollutants negatively impact the water quality of 145,000 miles of rivers and streams, 3000 miles of bays and estuaries, and over 1 million miles of lakes, rivers, and ponds. Such pollution poses a substantial threat to public health and aquatic life, leading to unsafe drinking water and eutrophication. Going meatless helps lessen agriculture runoff into these bodies of water, preventing nutrient pollution for overall better water quality.

3. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Production  

Reducing your meat intake can help fight global warming by mitigating greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Currently,livestock account for nearly 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats, and buffalo release large amounts of toxins (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrate oxide), resulting in global warming. Cutting out meat for one day per week for a year saves the equivalent emissions of driving 342 miles in a car, reducing your carbon footprint.

4. Prevent Deforestation

Deforestation remains a leading cause of climate change, with animal agriculture drastically reducing biodiversity. Sadly, cattle ranching accounts for 80% of deforestation in the Amazon, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, disrupting water cycles, and demolishing animal habitats. Cutting down on meat consumption reduces one’s contribution to deforestation, promoting saving landscapes and animals around the world.

5. Promote Environmental Sustainability Amidst Growing Population

World Resources Institute predicts the world’s population will reach 10 billion by 2050. With this, the demand for meat and dairy is expected to rise by 70%, requiring farmers to produce 56% more crops compared to 2010.

To feed the growing population, Americans must reduce their meat consumption by 44%, the equivalent of cutting back to a hamburger and a half per week. Whether you adopt Meatless Mondays or an entire plant-based diet, cutting down on meat supports a sustainable future for generations to come.