Meatout: “Kick the Meat Habit” for the Environment

Illustration: Green World

March 17 is World Meatout Day, an international observance aimed at raising awareness about the benefits of a plant-based diet and encouraging individuals to "kick the meat habit.” According to Meatout organizers, the event, now in its 25th year, draws support from a broad cross-section of groups and individuals who are “deeply concerned about the devastation to consumer and environmental health wrought by intensive meat production and consumption. Meatout not only promotes better food choices, but also supports a positive future for the planet.”1

In addition to the advantages of reducing chronic disease and infectious pathogens, freeing up land to grow food that could combat world hunger, preventing the inhumane raising and slaughter of animals, and lowering consumer food costs, "kicking the meat habit" provides these lasting benefits to resource conservation and environmental quality:

  • Global warming - Raising animals for food emits more greenhouse gas than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.2 In addition to CO2, the livestock industry generates other key contributors to global warming such as methane, nitrous oxide, and ammonia.3
  • Water resources - Producing one pound of beef requires approximately 2,500 gallons of water, whereas a pound of soy takes 250 gallons and a pound of wheat only 25 gallons.4
  • Water pollution - Farmed animals produce about 130 times more excrement than the human population of the US, yet factory farms don't have sewage treatment systems.5 Manure, antibiotics, growth hormones, fertilizers, pesticides, and other livestock-related pollutants foul our waterways and make their way into the human food chain.
  • Biodiversity and wildlife habitat - 70% of all agricultural land is used for livestock.6 In the Amazon region, cutting and burning rainforest to create pasture releases atmospheric CO2, destroys habitat, and causes incalculable loss of plant and animal species.
  • Environmental sustainability - Producing animal flesh requires up to three times as many resources as growing plant-based food.7 Climate change, pollution, habitat and species loss, and strain on land and water resources will only get catastrophically worse if global demand for meat is not reduced. A vegetarian diet is a giant step toward preserving the environmental resources that are vital to the survival of our children and their children.

What you can do

  • Pledge to “kick the meat habit” for a day or for a lifetime at
  • Shop Down to Earth, ALL-VEGETARIAN, Organic & Natural to explore and adopt a wholesome, compassionate, eco-friendly plant-based diet. Don’t miss the March 20th Meatout Sale for savings that benefit your health and the health of our planet.
  1. Who Supports Meatout?
  2. “Livestock a major threat to environment,” United Nations FAO Newsroom, Nov. 29, 2006.
  3. Ibid
  4. Jolinda Hackett, “How does eating meat affect water usage, water pollution and the ocean?”
  5. Guide
  6. Ed Ayres, "Will We Still Eat Meat?" Time, 8 Nov. 1999.
  7. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006. Livestock’s Long Shadow– Environmental Issues and Options. Rome.