Go Humane. Go Healthy. Go Green.

Your prime resource for cultivating an Ethical Omnivore conscience


Eat Less Meat

So you’ve found a local farm with happy hens to buy your eggs, a family farm not far away where you get your dairy products, and a small farm that raises pigs as humanely as possible for slaughter – you’re really going EO! 

But don’t forget one of the biggest parts of the Ethical Omnivore lifestyle is to cut back on meat and dairy consumption.  Why?  Read on.

It’s Green:

  1. According to a recent Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report , livestock production accounts for 18% of all global warming gases

  2. Just producing the 550 million Big Macs sold each year in the U.S. creates 2.66 billion pounds of carbon dioxide.

  3. If everyone in the U.S. went meatless for just one day we would save 70 million gallons of gas--enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare.

  4. If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just 1 day a week for a year, it’s like not driving 91 billion miles - or taking 7.6 million cars off the road. (source: Environmental Working Group)

  5. A vegetarian diet requires 2.9 times less water, 2.5 times less energy, 13 times less fertilizer and 1.4 times less pesticides than a nonvegetarian diet.  (source: Loma Linda University)

  6. Livestock production generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. (source: FAO)

  7. The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, euthropication and the degeneration of coral reefs. (source: FAO)

  8. 2,000 pounds of grain are required to produce enough meat and other animal products to feed a person on a meat-based diet for a year.  A mere 400 pounds are needed if that grain is eaten directly (source: In Defense of Animals (IDA USA))

  9. Number of additional people who could be fed if all grain grown in the US for livestock was used to feed people: 800 million (David Pimentel, Professor of Entomology, Cornell University)

  10. If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat for one day a week, it would be the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road. (source: In Defense of Animals)

  11. Per Day, a meat-center diet requires 4,000 gallons of water.  In contrast, a vegetarian diet requires only 1,200 gallons and a vegan diet a mere 300 gallons.

  12. 2,500 gallons of water yields-- 100 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of fruit, 1 pound of meat (source: presentation to the American Association For the Advancement of Science, G. Borgstrom.)

  13. If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the US would save:

  14. -100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New         England for almost 4 months   

  15. -1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year

  16. -70 million gallons of gas, enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare

  17. -3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware

  18. -33 tons of antibiotics

(source: physicist Noam Mohr, New York University Polytechnic Institute.)

It’s Healthy:

The science is unequivocal – numerous types of cancers have been linked to increased consumption of meat.  Likewise, study after study shows the connections between increase consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.  Please refer to the Cancer Project website for more concrete details, but a few tidbits are below:

  1. Otherwise healthy adults who eat meat twice daily have 25% increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome (linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes). http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080122165624.htm

  2. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting processed and red meats to decrease the risk of colon and prostate cancer; The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the American Dietetic Association recommend limiting red meat to 18oz a week.

  3. People who ate meat only occasionally (a few times a month) were 20% less likely to die of heart disease.

  4. Studies show that grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat, higher in heart-healthy Omega 3’s, vitamin E, beta-carotene, B vitamins and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient associated with lower cancer risk. (source: Environmental Working Group)

  5. You can lower your risk of diabetes by 28% by going meatless just a couple times a week (versus a regular meat-eating diet), according to one study.

  6. There is no cholesterol in plant-based products.  Zip.  Zero.  None.  Switching to a plant-based diet has been found to be as effective as taking a cholesterol-lowering drug.

  7. Many plant foods are high in fiber.  Animal products have zero fiber.  When you chose animal products over plant foods, you’re robbing your body of the chance for much needed fiber.

  8. The Cancer Project Handbook explains, “Not only is meat devoid of fiber and other nutrients that have a protective effect, but it also contains animal protein, saturated fat, and, in some cases, carcinogenic compounds....Meat intake has been shown to be a risk factor for breast cancer even when researchers controlled for confounding factors such as total fat and calorie intake.”

  9. Animal protein —in fish, poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy products—tends to leach calcium from the bones and encourages its passage into the urine. Plant protein—in beans, grains, and vegetables—does not appear to have this effect.  So get your calcium from plants! (source:  Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM))

It’s humane:

No surprises here: the fewer animal products you eat, the fewer animals will suffer as a result.   For example, did you know:

  1. On dairy farms, baby calves are taken away from their mothers at one day old.  The females enter the same production cycle as their mothers, but the baby boys are sold as veal calves and slaughtered at 4 months young.  Behind every dairy product you eat is a veal calf. Unfortunately this is oftentimes the case even on humane farms.

  2. Oftentimes farm animals are not allowed to live out their natural lives, even on humane farms.  Cows, for example, can live up to 20 years, but are routinely slaughtered after 5 years (when their milk is considered “spent”).  Pigs, lambs, chickens, turkeys, and all other animals are also slaughtered at young ages.

  3. Even when choosing animals raised on a small, local farm, the animals sometimes still face the same horrors of transportation as those raised on factory farms.  An estimated 1 million pigs alone are killed each year, just due to rigors of transportation from farm to slaughter.  (source: PETA)

  4. Even when choosing from farms with the most humane practices, many “routine” practices in the industry – such as castration without anesthesia for young male pigs and calves – are done without thinking.  By lowering the demand for meat, fewer animals will be subjected to these practices.

  5. On some of the happiest egg-laying hen facilities in the world, male     chicks are still considered “useless” and killed immediately after birth. On factory farms this can be accomplished by either by being suffocated in trash bags or thrown alive into a grinding machine.  Eating less eggs means fewer hens giving birth to fewer male chicks who face this fate.

As an EO, you should strive to go one better than current trends like Meatless Monday.  Try for Meatless Monday through Wednesday, for example.  Or go veg during the week, and eat meat as a special treat on the weekends.  Keep track of some of the stats above, and you’ll be amazed at the impact your diet can have on the planet.