The diet change from omnivore to vegan or vegetarian scares a lot of Americans despite the benefits it has on the Earth. But what if, instead of drastically changing eating habits we as a nation swapped out our beef for beans?
Brazil is the largest exporter of red meats, including beef. There are over 212 million cattle in Brazil. A farm of 38,000 cows can eat 900 tons of food a day, which includes beans. Consequently, all of the livestock in the world takes up a third of Earth’s land, and every year forests are being bulldozed to make room for the ever-growing market of animal products. Cows alone make up 37% of human-induced methane released in the US. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is partially at fault for climate change.
Eco-anxiety, A new term for those who have anxiety in relations to the feeling of dread and helplessness that comes from watching what seems to be irreversible effects of climate change and worrying about oneself and generations to come, has become an informal diagnosis to those with anxiety. Our current president, Donald Trump, has let fossil fuel advocates run the Department of Environment and Energy Protection Agency. This isn’t helping anyone with this new founded form of anxiety.
In 2009, President Obama pledged to reduce America’s carbon footprint by just under 17 percent by 2020, but as it stands right now we are nowhere near that goal. This loops us back to swapping out beef for beans. It is a really simple formula: we grow the beans, feed them to cows, then we eat the cows. So what if we cut out the middleman and grow beans and eat them too?
A study by Hellen Harwatt and a team of scientist from Bard college, Ohio State University, and Loma Linda University found that if every single American was dedicated to swapping to beans we would be able to meet the goal set by Obama. By every American doing only this, with no other changes to our lifestyles, we would reduce anywhere from 46 and 74 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Not only would this help us reach our goals but it would free up 42 percent of the land used in the US alone.
It might not be a scenario that will be playing out any time soon but it is a sustainable idea that could help Americans and the world. Would you be willing to swap out your beef for beans?
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