Eating less meat, more plants helps the environment

Background - 25 August, 2015
Meat is an important part of heritage and identity. It’s a cultural staple in many communities across the globe. But with a rising middle class, societies are becoming meat obsessed. Nowhere else is this more prevalent than rich nations whose appetite for beef, pork and processed chicken have reached a tipping point. The research is clear - a diet heavy in meat increases the risk of obesity, cancer and heart disease.

But it also makes the planet sick. The livestock sector - raising cows, pigs and chickens - generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as cars, trucks and automobiles combined. Cattle ranchers have clear cut millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural “carbon sinks.”

We’re not advocating that everyone adopt a “meatless” diet tomorrow. But we all must develop “meat consciousness” and reduce the level of meat in our diets. Shifting to more plant-based foods is essential to avoid catastrophic climate change, soil, air, and water pollution, ocean dead zones, and myriad other problems caused by industrial livestock production. If we decide to eat less meals with meat or dairy each week, we can have a huge impact on our collective health and the health of the planet.

Dishes at Ecological Restaurant in Sao Paulo. © Peter Caton / Greenpeace

Things You Can Do

  • Commit to reducing your meat and dairy consumption by a few meals per week and tell five friends about your choice to find alternative proteins

  • Make fresh fruits and vegetables a bigger part of your diet

  • Buy sustainable or organic fresh produce whenever possible

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