Meat, Killer or Savior?

Roslynn Besel, Reporter

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Climates are changing, ocean levels are rising, and environmentalists are saying that the single biggest way to reduce the carbon footprint on the earth is for people to lessen the amount of meat and dairy products they consume.

Meat is one of the biggest farming industries in the world, and its production requires a lot of resources. The Guardian reported on a recent study that showed the meat and dairy industry is responsible for 60% of all agriculture greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Science teacher Ms. Kirk explained the pollution associated with meat production, “The more cows we have, the more methane is produced. Methane is a greenhouse gas similar to carbon dioxide, but with more warming effects.” While most of the pollution from meat and dairy farms is released in the form of methane gas, they are also responsible for water pollution caused by the large amounts of waste they produce. Along with pollution, meat production requires millions of acres of land. According to Time Magazine, if everyone in the world went vegan, farmland would be reduced by 75%. The resulting land would be bigger than the size of the U.S., China, and Australia combined.

With hopes of saving the planet, many people are turning to vegan and vegetarian diets as a possible solution to the climate crisis. As far as resources go, it takes over ten times as many plants to sustain a meat based diet than it does a vegan diet. Senior Lily Hamilton, whose been a vegetarian for two years now, shared her thoughts on vegetarianism, “I think everyone should try going vegetarian at some point in their life or at least cut back on the amount of meat they’re eating.” Hamilton went on to explain, “Cutting down on personal meat consumption is probably better for the environment than not using plastic straws.” While Hamilton decided to cut out meat completely, many researchers believe that even just consuming less meat could make a difference.

Although full vegan diets are said to be the most efficient way to improve the environments condition, reducing meat intake by a small 10% could still have a huge impact on the planet. To senior Llewyn Merrill it’s all about making smart choices where meat is concerned, “I try to eat chicken more than other kinds of meats because it has the smallest carbon footprint of all of them.” Merrill is one of many people who have been consciously making changes to their diet with the health of the planet in mind. One Green Planet, a website dedicated to helping save the environment, has made several suggestions as to how people can reduce the amount of meat they consume without cutting it out of their diets entirely. They recommend eliminating processed and red meats, building meals around vegetables instead of meat, and trying to go one or two days a week without any meat at all.

With the numerous negative effects meat production has on the planet, most environmentalists agree that it is a serious problem in dire need of a solution. From going vegan to simply reducing meat intake, there are several things people can do to try and lessen the impact of meat production and help improve the planet’s condition.

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