With holiday festivities and Thanksgiving right around the corner, we wanted to study an important question that might make you think twice before biting into that turkey!
“Should you be avoiding meat this Thanksgiving?”
On Thanksgiving Day alone, Americans consume 46 million turkeys - about the weight of the Empire State Building.
Let that sink in for a second…
Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world.
Loss of wild areas and deforestation to make room for agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.
We want to do something about it!
But how many trees do we need to plant to counter deforestation caused by animal agriculture?
Let’s take a look at some more stats for good measure:
- Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon deforestation
- 1-2 acres of rain forest are cleared every second
- The leading causes of rain forest destruction are livestock and feed crops
Given this information, we’d need to plant 200-400 trees EVERY SECOND just to counter deforestation due to cultivation of crops and pasture.
The average US consumer today requires more than 2.5 acres (over two football fields) of crops and pasture each year to sustain his or her current diet.
That number decreases dramatically as you reduce meat consumption and add in more vegetables to 0.5 acres of land per person each year.
Does this mean it’s a no-brainer to avoid animal products so we can reduce our impact on Earth?
The number of vegans has increased 160 per cent over the past 10 years, and that's due to increasing awareness on the impact of dietary decisions on the environment!
BUT... people also need to be asking “where has this food come from”?
Here is what a typical veg & fruit shopping basket looks like:
- Pomegranates and mangos from India
- Lentils from Canada
- Beans from Brazil
- Blueberries from the US
- Avocados from Mexico
It can be argued that consuming meat & dairy from a farm a few miles down the road is much better for the environment than eating an avocado that has traveled from the other side of the world.
Less travel means less carbon pollution caused by transporting fruits & veg from other parts of the world to your local market.
It's also important to keep in mind while the consumer benefits, those at the source can be left high and dry.
Take avocados and quinoa, whose prices have been pushed up so much by Western demand that they’ve become unaffordable to those who depend on them in their country of origin.
Mexico makes more money from exporting the stoned fruit than it does from petroleum, and it has become a driving force in illegal deforestation to make way for planting more avocado trees.
Given all this information, is avoiding meat the best path to sustainability this Thanksgiving?
Or is it possible to achieve a sensible balance as a green carnivore?
Let us know your thoughts!
PS: Check out our collection of eco-friendly wooden sunglasses. Every pair plants a tree! 🌲