Bill Totten's Weblog

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Breathtaking Effects of Cutting Back on Meat

by Kathy Freston (April 01 2009)

I've written extensively on the consequences of eating meat - on our health, our sense of "right living", and on the environment. It is one of those daily practices that has such a broad and deep effect that I think it merits looking at over and over again, from all the different perspectives. Sometimes, solutions to the world's biggest problems are right in front of us. The following statistics are eye-opening, to say the least.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the US would save:

* 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost four months;

* 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

* Seventy million gallons of gas - enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

* Three million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

* 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the US would prevent:

* Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, as much as produced by all of France;

* Three million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

* 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

* Almost seven tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of US roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Other points:

Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, if we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about three pounds of grain/day - that's twice the grain they would need to survive. And that doesn't even include the 225 million tons of soy that are produced every year, almost all of which is fed to farmed animals. He writes, "The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we - the relatively affluent - have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly."

A recent United Nations report titled Livestock's Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost forty percent more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world's transportation systems - that's all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also concluded that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level - local and global.

Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

In its report, the UN found that the meat industry causes local and global environmental problems even beyond global warming. It said that the meat industry should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.


Unattributed statistics were calculated from scientific reports by Noam Mohr, a physicist with the New York University Polytechnic Institute.

Copyright (c) 2010, Inc.

Bill Totten


  • This is a great post. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advice. I get less comment than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.
    internsive language

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:46 AM, March 05, 2010  

  • Love it. I eat less and less meat as the years go by, and it’s so odd to think of people eating meat every single day. Not to say I don’t enjoy a nice steak or roasted chicken now and then, though.

    By Anonymous Alan Blake, at 2:57 PM, January 22, 2019  

  • Hi,
    If you are looking for real estate assistance Salaarestate are providing specialized services like a consultancy to help you in making a deal for buying a property in DHA Phase 1, DHA Phase 2 & 5 and DHA Valley. Our Estate agency has an expert team. The team has the utmost capability to cope up with the challenges of real estate with professionalism.

    By Anonymous SalaarEstate, at 10:45 PM, July 27, 2020  

  • As the world shifts into a more digital-focused direction moving forward, the need for more robust shipping systems paired with equally efficient shipment tracking software will be more essential. Thankfully, these companies have risen up to this modern need and are doing fantastic jobs at it.

    By Anonymous Danielle, at 8:31 PM, January 24, 2021  

  • In ecommerce,the shipping of goods is as much about software and notifications as it is about trucks and cargo planes. Most ecommerce business owners will never see a shipping container. They will, however, see web-based package tracking software.

    By Anonymous Danielle, at 11:35 PM, January 24, 2021  

  • Lovely post. Very nice suggestions.
    If you are looking for Write my essay for me then follow the best writing platform available online.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:01 PM, July 14, 2021  

  • Our goal is to become one of the leading and trusted freight service providers in the United Arab Emirates. Najmat Al Insaf Cargo offers you flexible and professional freight services from the United Arab Emirates. Our well-trained specialists are your logistics consultants and accompany you from door to door. Dubai Freight Services and Dubai Port-to-Port Freight Services. We always strive for long-term relationships with our customers, service providers and our employees. In today's competitive marketplace, market reach is more important. We have the flexibility to offer you personalized services. Solutions according to your requirements, however demanding they may be. Pakistan Cargo

    By Anonymous Pakistan Cargo, at 8:56 PM, February 21, 2022  

  • Your shipments are important to us, so we know how to value it.Every time you need to send a cargo, you can always count on us to make your shipments through our global networks since we have traffic centers strategically located in UAE. We want to provide the best service to our customers, so we offer different service options:

    By Blogger Friend, at 9:39 PM, May 19, 2022  

  • Love it. I eat less and less meat as the years go by, and it's so odd to consider individuals eating meat each and every day. However, not to say I despise a pleasant steak or broiled chicken sometimes. top recruitment agency in pakistan

    By Blogger SEO, at 4:05 PM, July 27, 2022  

  • Whether you are a beginner Chinese student, you’ve been learning for a while or maybe you’re even just thinking about learning Chinese, this is where you can find inspiration to make your Chinese language journey easier.

    By Anonymous learning Chinese, at 10:47 PM, October 05, 2022  

  • Thanks For Sharing This blog

    Zainab Cargo

    By Anonymous Zainab Cargo, at 5:49 PM, February 15, 2024  

Post a Comment

<< Home