Climate experts predict that increased global temperatures will have transformative impacts ranging from increased weather extremes and stronger weather events to the loss of Arctic sea ice and the eradication of entire ecosystems. Scientists have identified reducing greenhouse gas emissions as the primary mechanism to curb the trend of global temperature increases.
One of the most impactful efforts individuals can take in this effort is to adopt a plant-rich diet.

The agricultural sector accounted for 9.6% of total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.

These emissions come in the form of many greenhouse gases emitted through crop fertilization, manure management, soil management practices, and enteric fermentation (cow flatulence) among others. Beef and dairy cattle enteric fermentation produced methane emissions equivalent to over 550,000 miles driven by a passenger car.

Animal agriculture is linked to:

  • 55% of erosion
  • 75% of historic deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest
  • 30% of biodiversity loss

By reducing the consumption of meat, especially ruminants, we can reduce our emissions substantially.
A group of researchers estimate that by adopting a plant-rich diet, we can reduce global emissions by up to 66 billion tons by 2050. For comparison, the US emits roughly 5.8 billion tons of CO2 equivalent gases per year. Therefore, adopting a plant-rich diet globally could eliminate the equivalent of 10 years of US emissions by 2050.

  • Raising livestock accounts for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gases emitted each year; p39
  • If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of GHG; p39
  • American cattle digestion accounts for the equivalent of over 400,000 miles driven and the produced manure contributes another 165,000
  • The digestion and waste produced by beef and dairy cattle in the United States produces emissions equivalent to over 550,000 miles driven by a car
  • If 50% of the world adopts a plant-rich diet by 2050, over 65 gigatons of CO2e could be reduced.
  • Per gram of protein, beef emits up to 50x more greenhouse gases than plant-based alternatives
  • Food accounts for 10-30% of a household’s carbon footprint. Of this footprint, meat contributes 57% of the emissions and dairy 18%
  • 50% reduction in meat eggs dairy 
    • Results in 35-36% reduction in food related GHG 
    • 5.0 -> 3.3 kg of CO2 equivalent person per day 
    • This results in a 224 MMT reduction for total us population 
    • Achieves 24% of the reduction needed to achieve USA 2017 GHG reduction targets 
    • Equivalent to removal of 47.5 million vehicles from the road
    • 50% reduction in meat dairy and eggs, but including 90% reduction in beef, would result in even greater GHG reduction
https://ourworldindata.org/food-choice-vs-eating-local
Beef6.6
Poultry1.6
Legumes.11
Pounds of CO2e emitted per serving

What Can You Do?

EAT MORE PLANTS!

Crowd out your plate with greens, root crops, whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, spices & herbs – eat the RAINBOW!

There are over 3,000 edible plants on the planet. The more you eat, the better for our earth, your health and our economy.

One calorie of plant protein requires 11 times less fossil fuel energy input as one calorie of animal protein!

Sources:
https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/food/animal-agricultures-impact-on-climate-change/
https://ourworldindata.org/food-choice-vs-eating-local
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46459714