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This week’s Sustainable Saturday post is focused on meat and the effects it has on our environment.

I looovvve meat; I really consider myself quite the carnivore. Whether at a restaurant or at home, I must have a chunk of meat on my plate. From pork to chicken and steak, I love it all and find myself craving it often. Surprising enough, I’ve also attempted to add meat to my salads and sandwiches for extra protein to ensure that I will stay full longer.

However, my boyfriend’s family recently gave up meat due to sustainability reason. I had never thought of meat being environmentally harmful, and thus decided to do a little research on my own.

When researching I found that animal breeding for meat contributes enormously to global warming. With the excessive release of chemicals into the environment, the greenhouse effect is greatly increasing. According to the head of Wuppertal Institute of Climate, Environment and Energy, “contribution of cattle breeding is about the same as that for all automobile traffic, if we take into consideration the clearing of forests for cattle and for fodder.” I also found that, “the 1.3 million heads cattle kept worldwide alone are responsible for 12% annual methane gas emissions.

Breeding of livestock creates over 110 million tons of methane annually. This is even more critical when one considers that one molecule of methane contributes 25 times more to greenhouse effect than one molecule of carbon dioxide (the main by-product of autos).”

Not only is meat expensive in its production, but also an unimaginable amount of land is dedicated to raising these animals. Roughly one-fifth of the world’s land is dedicated to grazing. This land could be dedicated to vegetables, grains or other environmentally sustainable practices.

When considering these shocking statistics it is no wonder it has been an increasing trend to give up meat. Even my college cafeteria has jumped on the bandwagon by participating in Meatless Mondays to encourage a lower consumption of meat. For these reasons I encourage you to consider reducing your meat consumption with Meatless Mondays.

Simply giving up meat once a week can greatly reduce your greenhouse gas contribution. Even as a meat-obsessed carnivore I have given up meat once a week, because I know I can make a difference with just this one day sacrifice. So pass on the word and encourage your friends and family to go meatless on Mondays as well. You are helping yourself and your planet with this simple change!

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