Meatless Monday: The Effect of Meat on the Environment

With vegetarianism becoming all the rage with those who are health conscious or care about animal welfare, you probably know all the reasons to cut back on your meat consumption for your health. But what about the effects mass produced meat has on the environment?

Factory farming and the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation all over the world, and it’s not changing anytime soon. Between feeding them, providing them water and using up land to keep these animals housed, livestock use more natural resources than virtually anything. Not to mention transportation of animals and their products.

You may be thinking that you don’t want to give up your meat, and while you don’t have to, cutting back even just one day a week can greatly reduce the strain that meat production and factory farming have on the environment. Besides cutting back, making better choices when choosing meat and seafood can most definitely make a difference as well.

Follow these tips to change your habits, and help your health and the environment:

Cut back as much as you can. Once you try it, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can live without meat even for a little while. While you may not be willing to give up your steaks or burgers, you may find that your stir-fry doesn’t lose much when it’s just full of vegetables, or that you can leave the bacon bits off your salad without being unsatisfied. It might not seem like much, but every little bit counts, especially if more and more people get on board.

Choose locally raised meats and poultry, preferably those that are grass fed and have room to move around. Part of the problem with factory farming is that the animals are transported across the country to slaughterhouses and then the meat is transferred thousands of miles as well in refrigerated trucks that use more energy.

Buy organic and grass fed if possible. Not only will your meat taste better, but the less chemicals used on the grain that is fed to livestock, the lower the environmental impact.

Buy sustainable seafood. This means finding sources that don’t overfish and don’t contribute to pollution of our oceans.

Remember that animal products such as eggs, dairy and cheese all contribute to the industry as well, and make well thought out and researched choices when purchasing any food that contain animal products to help reduce your environmental impact.

Whether you decide to go full fledged vegetarian or just cut back your meat consumption, you can make a difference, and it doesn’t have to mean giving up anything that you love.

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