In continuation with the theme of the previous article, “Environmental Cost of Protein” (http://ecomerge.blogspot.com/2012/10/environmental-cost-of-protein.html).
Did you know that producing the annual beef diet of the average American emits as much greenhouse gas as a car driven more than 1,800 miles? Greenhouse gases are a problem because they contribute to global warming which affects our natural ecosystems for worse. You can get a better idea of how the emissions of different proteins vary by looking at the table below.
According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the production levels of meat contributed between 14% and 22% of the 36 billion tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases the world produces every year. Only energy production generates more greenhouse gases than does raising livestock for food.
It’s not just the emissions that are the problem of producing animal based protein. The same study found that producing one pound of animal protein requires 100 times more water than producing one pound of grain protein. The FAO also reported that "livestock may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, [and] climate change...". Obviously all of the above are terrible consequences to our environment.
While you may not be the one directly destroying the environment with deforestation and producing the protein it’s your diet choice which indirectly affects it. It may be difficult to completely cut out animal based protein from our diets but it’s a small sacrifice to reduce it.