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Plant-Rich Diet

Rank: 4

Background: Food is a human necessity, and dietary choices are a very personal matter. But it has become clear that meat, and especially beef, has a greater environmental and climate cost than other foods. These costs are especially high when land is cleared of forest to raise cattle, and when livestock are not part of a cycle of soil enrichment and carbon sequestration.

Animals raised in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) do not graze, they eat feed produced by carbon-emitting industrial agriculture methods. More than 90 million acres of land in the U.S. grow corn to feed livestock (USDA).

According to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), livestock is responsible for an estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Wikipedia summary). This estimate has been attacked and distorted in both directions in the years since the FAOs 2006 report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, but it still stands. There are many changes in animal management that would reduce emissions, the most direct and efficient mitigation is for households to cap the amount of meat and animal products that they eat.

Goals: Follow a personal diet of about 2250 calories per day and 56gm of protein (the recommended daily allowance) – decreasing meat consumption in favor of plant-based foods.

Existing Programs