Published by Ashley Palmer.

How can what we eat help the planet? Or rather, how can what we eat hurt the planet?

A recent U.N. report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet is vital if we are to combat the worst effects of climate change. Climate change is caused mostly by carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Raising animals for food is one of the largest sources of carbon-dioxide emissions and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous-oxide emissions.

The U.N. also reported that raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and to grow feed crops) now uses a staggering 30 percent of the Earth’s total land mass. While factory farms are ruining our land, commercial fishing methods such as bottom trawling and long-lining have virtually emptied millions of square miles of ocean and pushed many marine species to the brink of extinction. Commercial fishing boats indiscriminately pull as many fish as they can out of the sea, leaving behind ecological devastation and the bodies of nontarget animals in their wake.

Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food. With watering the crops that farmed animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year, and cleaning away the filth from factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses, the farmed-animal industry places a serious strain on our water supply.

Simply put, going vegan is the easiest and most effective way for you to help the planet.

If you’re not ready to dive headfirst into veganism, consider going meatless one day a week. Eating vegan one day a week lowers your carbon footprint more than eating local every day of the week! Browse our database filled with hundreds of free vegan recipes to get started.

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