What we put in our shopping bags at the grocery store actually has more environmental impact than whether we bring our reusable shopping bag or drive a hybrid vehicle to the store. Animal agriculture releases 51% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report revealed that animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation combined.
Animal agriculture contributes to the global greenhouse effect by the methane produced by cows, deforestation of the rainforest to create land suitable for grazing, and the enormous consumption of fossil fuel used to operate factory farms and slaughterhouses. It takes eight times as much fossil fuel to produce animal protein as it does to produce plant protein. When we think of eating green, we often think of locally produced food as being the most ecologically correct choice. However, a study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that shifting just two meals per week from meat and dairy products to a vegan diet reduces more greenhouse gases than buying all locally-sourced food.
Over half the total amount of fresh water consumed in the U.S. goes to irrigate land to grow feed for livestock. It takes less water to produce one year’s worth of food for a completely plant-based diet than to produce one month’s worth of food for a diet with animal products. Additionally, the millions of tons of waste produced by these massive farmed animal populations pollute our lakes, rivers and groundwater. Animal agriculture destroys thousands of acres of forests that help purify the air, reduce carbon dioxide, and are home to many species of animals, birds, and plants. It is estimated that one acre of trees is preserved each year by every individual who switches to a completely plant-based diet.