Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner, what a catchy slogan especially when you say it in a low southern drawl. Not only is it catchy but it’s also accurate, as majority of Americans have turned to beef or meat as a mealtime staple. However harmless as this might seem, meat consumption has huge environmental repercussions. Agriculture plays a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions, land use change, water scarcity and more. But, however easy it is to harp on meat consumption now, it is relevant to mention that I was oblivious to many of the these environmental. I had heard murmurs of these facts before but I had no idea the scale or severity, until very recently.
In the fall of 2016 I took my first environmental science class and for the first time my eyes were open to the world of sustainability. I had spent my last 21 years blissfully unaware of the harm that humans are causing to the environment. Honestly it was a big coming of age moment and completely changed the lens I was viewing my world out of. It changed the way I interact with my surroundings, the things I valued and my career path. It is crazy for me to think that I was so unaware of the severity to which humans effect the environment. I considered myself to be a well-informed individual, but I was easily able to turn a blind eye. The fact that I was more familiar with the slogan, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” than beef’s environmental impacts is a really telling tale.
At first, learning about how big some of the challenges we face environmentally seemed defeating but then I turned to small lifestyle changes. One of those changes was my meat consumption. So, during that same fall I said goodbye to meat and became a vegetarian. Now, don’t get me wrong I enjoy a juicy hamburger as much as the next girl but it was a decision that I don’t regret. It forced me to eat healthier and mind the foods that I was putting into my body. Beyond my own well being, I might be cutting down a sliver of climate-warming emission. According to The Guardian, “studies have shown that meat lover’s diets cause double the climate warming emissions of vegetarian diets.” However, I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to become a vegetarian to make a difference. Instead we need to check the facts and consider eliminating just one of our daily servings of meat. Eliminating just one serving could cause a significant decrease to our carbon footprint and maybe save a few of those happy cows.