Going zero waste is a noble goal. It involves eliminating disposable plastics, food waste, and excess consumption from your life. The aim is to leave no trash behind that will end up in a landfill. However, for most people going completely zero waste is unattainable. It requires massive lifestyle changes that not everyone can adopt.
The good news is there is a simple hack you can try instead to reduce your environmental impact: reducing your meat consumption. This one change can have a huge positive effect while still allowing you to live a normal, convenient lifestyle.
Why Go Meatless?
The production of meat is extremely detrimental to the environment. It requires massive amounts of land, water, and energy. It also produces high levels of greenhouse gases.
The Shocking Statistics
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. The rapid expansion of land for meat production leads to deforestation and loss of wildlife habitats.
Animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This includes methane and nitrous oxide emissions from manure and digestive processes.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce just 1 pound of beef. Meat production places a major strain on freshwater reserves.
91% of Amazon deforestation is due to animal agriculture. Trees are cleared to make room for grazing and growing animal feed crops.
Clearly, our massive consumption of meat is destroying the planet. Even just slightly reducing your meat intake can make a big difference.
Start With Meatless Mondays
Going vegetarian or vegan is daunting for most people. An easy way to start is by having Meatless Mondays. Give up meat for just one day a week as a simple, achievable goal.
Here are some tips for an easy start:
Try new vegetarian recipes. Search online for delicious vegetarian main dishes. Discover you love foods like vegetable curry, lentil soup, or eggplant parmesan.
Plan ahead. Spend Sunday cooking a vegetarian lasagna, chili, or stir fry to eat on Monday. This avoids the temptation of takeout burgers.
Eat out meat-free. Many restaurants now offer great vegetarian options. Enjoy exploring new cuisines like Ethiopian or Indian that are naturally meat-light.
Replace meat in familiar dishes. Make tacos with mushrooms or lentils instead of ground beef. Swap chicken for tofu in your favorite stir fry.
Be creative and you may find you love Meatless Mondays so much, you naturally end up going meatless more often.
Additional Hacks to Reduce Your Footprint
Once you have Meatless Mondays down, try incorporating these other sustainable food hacks:
Buy Local In-Season Produce
- Eating local minimizes transportation emissions.
- Buying in-season avoids energy-intensive greenhouse growing.
Eat Less Dairy
- Dairy production generates greenhouse gases from cow digestion and manure.
- It also requires large amounts of energy, land and water resources.
Minimize Food Waste
- Plan meals carefully and repurpose leftovers to avoid throwing food out.
- Compost food scraps if you can’t eat them.
Choose Sustainably Sourced Seafood
- Avoid overfished species and opt for sustainably managed fisheries.
- Support local fishers over imported seafood when possible.
Going zero waste is an admirable goal but can be unfeasible for many. Luckily, reducing your meat consumption is an easy, impactful change. Start with Meatless Mondays, then try adding other sustainable food practices like buying local produce or minimizing food waste. Small steps make a difference! Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. The planet will thank you.