We are increasingly experiencing massive heat waves, forest fires and waves of refugees triggered by floods. What may sound like the script from a disaster film to some, is already a reality in many parts of the world, and, according to the current world climate report, will become significantly worse. The natural events described are consequences of climate change – humanity must act.
This seemingly unstoppable threat scares many, they feel at their mercy and helpless. The fact is that everyone can do something in their private environment: even switching to a more or less animal-free, sustainable diet can make a positive contribution to the climate. Half of all emissions caused by forestry and agriculture are generated by livestock. So if you consume fewer animal products or cut them out altogether, you can save up to 73% of your CO2 footprint and thus make an effective contribution to climate protection.
Climate balance of a diet that uses more plant-based products is made up as follows: A vegetarian or vegan diet is more resource-efficient than an omnivore diet, i.e. a diet in which animal products and meat are consumed. The fewer animal products that are consumed, the more people can be fed from the same amount of grain, as this is not processed into animal feed but ends up on people’s plates as food. Factory farming is the main reason for the extensive consumption of water, nutrients and arable land and significantly worsens the climate balance.
It stems from this: if more individuals consciously pay attention to a balanced, plant-based diet, arable land will be freed up that can be used to produce food for people. Thus, a predominantly plant-based diet not only has a positive effect on climate change, but is also a possible solution to world hunger and the slowly beginning global shortage of arable land.
Positive aspects for climate protection can also be identified in other areas. There are fewer transport routes for plant-based products, meaning that the resulting CO2 emissions can be significantly reduced. A breeding animal lives in different stables in different locations until it ends up on the end consumer’s plate. For example, a pig lives in up to three different locations in its lifetime before being driven to the slaughterhouse. According to the Albert Schweizer Foundation, these transports often cross national borders, and even beyond Europe’s borders. Vegetables, on the other hand, usually go through significantly fewer work steps and therefore also have a better CO2 balance. Of course, the following applies here: The more regional and seasonal the vegetables are, the shorter the transport routes and thus the CO2 balance. These differences mean that the production of one kilogram of beef (36 kg CO2 per kg) produces 360 times as much CO2 as the production of one kilogram of carrots (0.1 kg CO2 per kg). Breeding animals also cause emissions themselves: cows, for example, emit the greenhouse gas methane during digestion, which is ten to twenty times more harmful to the climate than CO2.
In short: by changing your diet, towards a more sustainable one and using regionally produced products wherever possible, you make a substantial contribution to climate protection and conserve important resources. Every step, no matter how small, is important on the way to a more climate-friendly world. The change in diet can start slowly: step by step, animal products can, for example, be replaced by more regional products from sustainable production or even completely eliminated from the diet – just as much as you can and want.
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