We all know the benefits a plant-based diet can have for your personal health, but what about the health of the planet? Going plant-based can actually help lower your environmental footprint, here’s how.
We’re counselled that little things like turning off the lights when we leave a room, taking shorter showers, or biking to work instead of driving are effective methods of cutting down our environmental footprint. But, sometimes it can feel like our individual efforts aren’t making that much of a difference.
Recent research has proven that our personal choices can have an incredible ecological impact, especially our dietary ones. Scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University found that if every American opted for beans instead of beef, the US might be able to meet former President Barack Obama’s 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals. By how much exactly? The study estimates that just this one substitution could meet 46 to 74% of the reduction goals — and that’s without downsizing your car or shortening shower time. Those are numbers we can get behind.
What’s the beef with beef?
Beef has a huge climate impact partly because of all that’s required to produce it. Along with the space required for cattle (according to the United Nations, 26% of all ice-free land is used for livestock), space also has to be cleared for cattle feed. 38,000 cattle require 900 metric tons of feed — often soybeans — per day, and all that food requires 33% of arable land on Earth to grow. Not surprising given that there are about 1.5 billion cattle on Earth at any given time, and all of these cattle will consume significantly more calories in beans than they will be able to produce as meat.
The study found that if Americans swapped out beef, up to 42% of U.S. crop-growing land would be freed, a significant difference to the deforestation and land degradation currently required to grow plants to feed the cattle. That land could then instead be used to grow plants to feed people, creating more food sources with less of the damage caused by roaming cattle.
Where do greenhouses gases come into this?
One of the other major issues is the amount of greenhouses gases the cattle will produce. A United Nations found that worldwide livestock, many of which are cows, create more greenhouse gas emissions than transport. The report also found that livestock generates over 100 different types of polluting gases, including ammonia, a significant cause of acid rain. Though it may not be an official balm for climate change, a transition from a meat-centric diet could offer the environment some much-needed TLC.
What about plant-based diets?
Furthermore, the study assumed that people would continue eating other meat-based options like pork, fish, chicken, and eggs and didn’t even examine the impact a completely plant-based diet could have. Adopting a completely plant-based diet has a long list of environmental impacts, from cleaning up our water supply to helping combat world hunger. Not to mention, there’s a long list of benefits for your body and mind, and it can be downright delicious. Check out our Soulara menu for some tasty examples like Luminous Laksa and Juan’s Mexican Red Beans & Rice.
At Soulara, we believe in more than just offering you nutritious, superfood-packed plant-based meals and know that everything we do has a consequence. We want to make sure that what we’re eating has a good one, and will benefit both ourselves and the world.
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