For some people, making the choice to switch to a plant-based diet can be a hard one to make, but it has a lot of benefits that are worth considering. When done properly, it can make your body healthier, your waistline smaller, your wallet richer and the earth safer. Sounds amazing, right?
People who switched to a meatless diet are not only gaining personally, they are also taking part in saving the planet. If you noticed, summers are getting hotter year after year. Experts say the constant increase of temperature is due to global warming or climate change.
Infrared radiation from the sun normally bounces off the earth and exits the atmosphere; however, the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere prevents them from going out thereby trapping in the heat they bring. Experts refer to it as the greenhouse effect which is the cause of global warming.
A lot of factors contribute to the increased and rapid accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and experts are calling on to people to make an effort and contribute to the reduction of these gasses.
How Going Meatless Helps to Reduce Greenhouse Gasses
The burning of fossil fuel to produce electricity and heat remains the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Meat production is far from the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions these industries release, but it still is a significant contributor to pollutant emissions.
Meat production contributes to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in two ways, deforestation and emissions of pollutant gasses from animal manure.
The increasing demand for meat urges livestock owners to expand their pasture land and another land for growing feed crops. Trees play an important role in converting carbon dioxide in the air into oxygen through photosynthesis. A lesser number of trees through deforestation means lesser number of natural carbon dioxide converters. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization or UN FAO, livestock agriculture is responsible for 9 percent carbon dioxide emissions.
Manure from ruminant livestock, such as cattle, emits methane. It is a type of greenhouse gas which is 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Ruminant animals are animals with a unique digestive system than other animals which may be the reason why their manure releases methane. Findings of the UN FAO showed that livestock agriculture is responsible for 37 percent methane emissions.
Moreover, the same records from the UN FAO showed that raising cattle creates a bigger problem than raising other livestock, such as poultry and pigs. This is mainly because beef production requires more land, water, and fertilizer than producing poultry meat and pork.
UN FAO also pointed out that eating plant foods can help lower greenhouse gasses emissions. For example, producing a pound of vegetable creates roughly about three to five times lower gas emissions than producing a pound of meat. The explanation behind this is simple, it is more efficient to grow crops and eat them than to grow crops feed it to animals to make them grow before you could eat them.
Greenhouse gas emissions from meat production may not be as greater from emissions produced by fuel combustion used to generate electricity and heat, but taking part in such great cause should not be underestimated. Choosing to help save the environment by going meatless is a win-win because it makes you healthier too.
Tips for Safe Diet Meatless Switch
Going meatless is not healthy if you are not doing it right. You have to give your body time to adjust to the changes. Arm yourself with these tips on how to safely switch to a meatless diet.
Make a gradual change.
You can’t sleep a meat-eater and woke up a vegetarian the next day. Your gut needs to adjust to the changes in your diet. Diets focused on plant foods are usually high in dietary fiber which can have nasty effects on your digestion especially if your gut is not used to it. Start by going meatless one meal a day the first two weeks then gradually pick up the pace as you go.
Consume a variety of plant foods.
One of the pitfalls of switching to a meatless diet is not eating the right foods that meet your body’s nutrient needs. You are not going to bring positive changes in your health if this is the case. Protein, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 are key nutrients you should focus on because these nutrients generally found in meat are not commonly found in most plant foods.
It is best to ask advice from a diet professional for your health’s sake.