Well, a whole lot more than you might think.
According to an article on NPR (and myriad others), not only is meat consumption at an all-time high, we’re the second most meat-heavy nation in the world at roughly 270 lbs of meat consumed per person, per year. From the chart above, it’s not hard to see why this is a potential problem.
Aside from the absurd amount of resources used, many commercial farms engage in undesirable environmental practices, using synthetic chemicals and hormones to keep crowded pens and stalls from becoming disease breeding hotboxes. And then, there’s the emissions:
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains add up to 7.1 gigatonnes (GT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) per year – or 14.5 percent of all human-caused GHG releases.”
Imagine the effect of America cutting it’s meat consumption in half. It sounds drastic, but it would still be over ten times the amount of most developing countries, and double or triple many European countries. This is perhaps one of the easiest and most individually doable actions we can take — by consider meat an occasional treat, instead of a daily staple, you can make a serious impact on the environment.