What Would Happen If The World Went Vegetarian?

World veg 1
What would happen if everyone went vegetarian? How would it affect us globally and individually?  People become vegetarian for a variety of reasons: some want to eat healthily, and others want to end animal cruelty. I haven’t eaten meat in 4 months. For me this is huge, but now that I have been vegetarian for a while, I don't feel tempted to eat meat. Most of the people I talk to  say “I could never give up meat!” or “how do you do it?” I always have the same answer:“it’s not that hard, just remind yourself why you are vegetarian.” What do I remind myself? That every time i don't buy or eat meat, I am saving the world. 

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Livestock Industry VS. Everything else
Food production is responsible for almost %u2153 of global warming, a majority of that responsibility falls to the livestock industry. Few people in the world know this, they focus instead on the carbon emissions that cars emit, but a family of four emit more carbon emissions by eating meat than from driving two cars. When people think of global warming, often the first thing that comes to their mind is cars, and smokestacks, and things that directly and visibly release harmful chemicals into the air. Globally, 15 percent of manmade carbon dioxide comes from vehicles (ex. Cars, Planes, ships, trucks). Carbon dioxide is just one of the major greenhouse gases that harm the atmosphere. Methane and nitrous oxide, are 2 other major greenhouse gases that greatly harm the Earth’s atmosphere. In 2006 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide and over the course of 20 years it’s atmospheric level has steadily been rising. Recent studies have found the culprit: the livestock industry. Livestock manure produces methane as it decomposes inside closed-air containers called lagoons, which are often used to store large amounts of manure.  The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production accounts for some 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases annually or about 35 percent of total anthropogenic methane emissions. Similar to methane, nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that is emitted through livestock waste and fertilizer. 

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What would happen if the world didn't eat meat?
In the world, there are about 20 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cows, >1 billion sheep, and <1 billion pigs, a lot of which would disappear. This would free up large amounts of land, almost 33 million square kilometers are devoted to the livestock industry, an amount of land equivalent to the size of Africa. It is possible that all of this free land could become desert, but it is also possible that the environment that was existent before the land was cleared could come back. This would mean more trees and shrubs would return. The loss of trees is a huge issue because they basically breathe carbon dioxide, a gas harmful to the Earth’s atmosphere; with fewer trees, more carbon dioxide lingers in the air. A decent amount of the the effects of climate change would diminish. Along with this, the amount of methane and nitrous oxide production would also drastically decrease. If the world didn’t meat, three major greenhouse gases would be far less harmful.

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Now I’m not trying to imply that the world should all go vegetarian, because it does of a few downsides, and A LOT of people LOVE meat. If everyone was just at least conscious about the amount they eat and the effect it has on the environment, we would be one step closer to ending climate change. You can eat meat, but it doesn't have to be the center of every meal and make sure you know where your meat is coming from, consider eating something more sustainable. Try it!

Sources: 
  1. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/climate_law_institute/transportation_and_global_warming/
  2. https://www.ecowatch.com/how-factory-farming-contributes-to-global-warming-1881690535.html
  3. https://thinkprogress.org/methane-emissions-are-spiking-but-it-might-be-more-cow-than-car-791e5233dc2a/
  4. http://www.ghgonline.org/nitrouslivestock.htm
  5. https://blog.education.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/31/what-would-happen-if-everyone-stopped-eating-meat/
Posted by Max Wix on Nov 3, 2017 2:54 PM America/Chicago

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