Global warming has been called
humankind’s “greatest challenge” and the world’s most grave
environmental threat.1 The scientific community says that there is no
doubt that global warming is real and that humans are largely to blame.
Human activities are emitting vast amounts of “greenhouse gases” that
prevent heat from escaping from the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists
report that this phenomenon will increasingly lead to catastrophic
natural disasters, such as more frequent and intense droughts, floods,
and hurricanes; rising sea levels; and more disease outbreaks.
Scientists also warn that global warming threatens the lives of millions
of humans and countless other animals.
Many conscientious people are
trying to help reduce global warming by driving more fuel-efficient cars
and using energy-saving light bulbs. Although this helps, science shows
that going vegetarian is perhaps the most effective way to fight global
In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the
United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more
greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.
Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld
reported that the meat industry is “one of the most significant
contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”2
Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous
oxide together cause the vast majority of global warming. Raising
animals for food is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the
single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions.
Carbon Dioxide: The burning of fossil
fuels (such as oil and gasoline) releases carbon dioxide, the primary
gas responsible for global warming. Producing one calorie of animal
protein requires more than 10 times as much fossil fuel input—releasing
more than 10 times as much carbon dioxide—than does a calorie of plant
protein.3 Feeding massive amounts of grain and water to farmed animals
and then killing them and processing, transporting, and storing their
flesh is extremely energy-intensive. In addition, enormous amounts of
carbon dioxide stored in trees are released during the destruction of
vast acres of forest to provide pastureland and to grow crops for farmed
animals. On top of this, animal manure also releases large quantities of
You could exchange your “regular” car for
a hybrid Toyota Prius and, by doing so, prevent about 1 ton of carbon
dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year, but according to the
University of Chicago, being vegan is more effective in the fight
against global warming; a vegan prevents approximately 1.5 fewer tons of
carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year than a meat-eater
does.4 The math is simple: You could spend more than $20,000 on a Prius
and still emit 50 percent more carbon dioxide than you would if you just
gave up eating meat and other animal products.
Methane: The billions of chickens,
turkeys, pigs, and cows who are crammed into factory farms each year in
the U.S. produce enormous amounts of methane, both during digestion and
from the acres of cesspools filled with feces that they excrete.
Scientists report that every pound of methane is more than 20 times as
effective as carbon dioxide is at trapping heat in our atmosphere.5 The
Environmental Protection Agency shows that animal agriculture is the
single largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.6
Nitrous Oxide: Nitrous oxide is about 300
times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide. According
to the U.N., the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for a
staggering 65 percent of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.7
You Can Help Stop Global Warming!
The most powerful step that we can take as individuals to avert global
warming is to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy products.
30-Day Veg Pledge today to start
helping the environment every time you eat.