Healthy eating has huge benefits for your own health, but did you know that eating healthy green food is also very important for the health of our planet?
We usually attribute global warming to our immense use of fossil fuels in transportation, manufacturing, heating, cooling, etc. All these are responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions that lead our climate change, but the single largest contributor is actually our food – or better said, our animal food.
Surprised? So was I not too long ago, until I started digging deeper and found some alarming facts about the real main reason for our climate change and loss of natural resources: it happens mainly because we choose to eat the not so green food: animal products!
Livestock raised by the meat, egg, and dairy industries is now responsible for 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions – that is three times more than all cars, planes, trains, ships, etc. combined worldwide!
Eating a plant-based diet without any animal ingredients is the most efficient green food to protect our planet: it prevents the equivalent of 1.5 tons CO2 emissions every year – more than the 1 ton CO2 emissions prevented by switching to a hybrid car!
Here are some staggering facts to highlight how our food choices contribute to greenhouse gas emissions:
More than 99% of all farm animals are now raised on factory farms in the United States. Virtually all our seafood originates from industrial fishing or factory fish farms.
Eating one pound of meat emits the same greenhouse gas as driving an SUV for 40 miles. No matter where the animal was raised – it is not green food!
The annual cost of environmental damage and global depletion caused by industrial farming in the US is estimated at $34.7 billion.
The U.N. reports that the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide greenhouse gases, which are 296 times as warming as CO2.
The livestock industry alone is responsible for 37% of methane gases, which are 26 times more warming than CO2. Of that, belching and flatulence from farm animals alone already contribute to 16% of the world’s annual methane emission.
How our animal food choices contribute to global depletion of our natural resources:
In the US, more than 50% of the overall water use goes into animal agriculture.
It takes between 2,500 – 4,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of soy needs 250 gallons and a pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons of water. Eating green would be eating the green food (crops) directly, rather than feeding them to animals first.
One-third of all the raw materials and fossil fuels used in the US go to raising food animals.
30% of the entire earth land surface is now used by livestock, mostly as permanent pasture. This includes 33% of the global arable land used to produce feed crops.
Of all the agricultural land in the US, nearly 80% is used in some way to raise animals – that’s roughly half of the total land mass of the US.
20% of pasture land is considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. Even if we wanted to cultivate green food for humans on this land, it would take years and decades for the land to recover.
80% of the deforested areas in the Amazon rainforest are occupied by cattle pastures and soy fields. 70-80 % of that soy is used to feed livestock -not humans.
Factory farming is responsible for 37% of pesticide contamination, 50% of antibiotic contamination, and one-third of the nitrogen and phosphorus loads found in freshwater.
Farmed animals produce 130 times more excrement than the human US population and the run-off from their waste is contaminating the waterways. Even organic green food that is fertilized with animal manure is at risk to contaminate the soil and sicken consumers.
Large US companies have been linked to deforestation, land theft, and slavery in the Amazon region in Brazil.
How do we eat to sustain our own health and that of our planet?
To make a true difference, we have to start eating real green food – a fully plant-based diet based on organically grown whole foods. This would allow our topsoils to recover, our water resources and air to clean up, and it would protect the biodiversity of our unique planet.
Eating low on the food chain and using the most efficient and beneficial foods for our health and that of our planet – that’s what is truly sustainable eating.
Along with saving the planet and its resources, we would also be able to feed many more people with much less land and resource use. Here is a comparison:
The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people – that is more than the current human population on earth.
20% of the world’s population – 1.4 billion people – could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to US cattle alone.
80% of all the grains we grow in the US and 80% of the total world’s soy crop are consumed by farm animals – not humans.
One pound of beef requires up to 16 pounds of grain; a pound of pork requires 7 pounds, and a pound of poultry needs 2-6 pounds of grain – not really green food.
Animal feed requires almost 10 times the crops that it would take to feed vegetarians. If we eat green food, the world population could be fed comfortably for many years to come.
All animals require many times more calories in the form of grains than they will return in form of animal flesh for human eaters.
The grass-fed beef operations in California alone use 1-2 million gallons of water on one acre of pasture land they call sustainable. Only 400-480 pounds of meat can be produced by one acre of land, compared to 20,000 pounds of plant foods that could be grown on the same slot.
For information on this subject and to learn more about Green Eating, visit www.Belsandia.com where their mission is to serve as your guide to a healthy, cruelty-free, and sustainable lifestyle by adopting healthy eating guidelines that will benefit your health, our planet, and all of its living creatures.