Did you know that producing 2.2 pounds of beef takes enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 20 days? Or that it takes 660 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? (Sources: Sustainable Table and Seafood Watch). Due to the fact that beef production requires so much land, food and water and emits a large amount of harmful methane gas, beef is now known at the “new SUV” for climate change. You can help reduce the impact of climate change and help protect wild animals and wild places by trying Meatless Mondays!
Let’s talk facts – there are 7 billion people on Earth sharing 7.68 billion acres of arable land. That would be plenty of space for one acre per person, with places left over for wildlife and their homes. However, meat consumption takes up to three times more than that, requiring precious wild lands to be used for raising beef and growing their food. In fact, 30 percent of all terrestrial land on Earth is used for livestock (John D. Sutter, CNN). The Amazon rainforest is an unfortunate example of this. One of the most important ecosystems on the planet is being cut down at a rapid rate to grow feed for livestock. The livestock industry directly affects a lot of our endangered species and our planet! Brazil is one of the largest beef producers in the world and thus affects one of Zoo Atlanta’s endangered species, the golden lion tamarin.
In addition to habitat loss from cattle and food for cattle, the beef industry is directly linked to climate change from the amount of methane produced from cows. In fact, 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas pollution can be attributed to livestock, with a whopping 65 percent of that coming from beef alone. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas with 25 times more global warming potential as carbon dioxide, which is why cows are deemed the “new SUV.”
Don’t be discouraged! You can help a great deal by making the small change of trying Meatless Mondays and sharing with friends and family!
Conservation Education Initiatives Supervisor