8 Ways to Stop Deforestation in Your Own Backyard
- If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about deforestation very often, because it’s not an issue that directly affects your life on a daily basis.
- Deforestation has been steadily decreasing over the past few decades, and that’s good news!
- However, we still have much more work to do if we want to completely stop deforestation and save our planet for future generations to enjoy.
- As long as people continue to choose meat over mushrooms and other products that aren’t deforested, there will always be pressure to clear forested land for animal grazing space.
1) Meat is bad for you
A report from Oxford University found that cutting out red meat could prevent more than five million deaths per year.
High in saturated fat and cholesterol, red meat is bad for your heart, too. In fact, eating it can increase your risk of having a heart attack by as much as 80 percent!
While seafood is often thought of as healthier than red meat (and it is), avoid overdoing it on fish if you’re hoping to reduce your carbon footprint; roughly 18 pounds of carbon dioxide goes into making one pound of farmed salmon!
Plus, many people don’t eat enough fish—one serving should be about 9 ounces each week—and tend to choose fattier types such as mackerel or albacore tuna.
2) Meat takes up space on our plates and in our stomachs
It’s no secret that meat production is extremely resource-intensive. According to a recent study published by McGill University, livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of total human-induced greenhouse gas emissions—and 80 percent of farmland worldwide.
And beef? The world’s most popular meat (sorry pork, chicken and fish) is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other food source (including rice, corn and beans).
Wanna help stop deforestation? Try swapping out your burger for a mushroom burger—or just eat less meat altogether. But remember: It takes only one bad meal choice to make you an accidental forest destroyer!
3) Livestock takes over land that could be used for growing other things
To Stop Deforestation: Animal feed takes up a lot of space. Animals like cows and pigs take up even more space when you raise them on farms. In fact, animal farming uses 30 percent of Earth’s land.
It also uses 50 percent of its freshwater and 75 percent of its grain — leaving less room for producing other foods, especially those that don’t require a whole lot of water or grain.
If you add meat eating to that equation, it really becomes a heavy load on our planet.Luckily, there are ways we can cut down on how much livestock we consume without giving up all animal products entirely.
Switching from beef to mushrooms would be one way to do that. The average American eats about 3 ounces of beef per day, which is about 70 pounds per year. To replace all that beef with mushroom protein would only require 10 pounds of mushrooms per year!
That might not sound like a lot, but if everyone replaced just half their beef with mushrooms, it could save over 15 million acres of forested land each year!
4) Intensive cattle production hurts the environment and climate change
To Stop Deforestation: Raising cattle for beef is one of today’s most significant causes of global warming and land degradation.
Forests are being chopped down to provide grazing space for cattle and enormous amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas up to 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, are released into our atmosphere through belching cows.
It takes around 15 pounds of plant material grown on just one acre of land to produce just 1 pound of meat from cattle.
One cow can eat up to 10 pounds per day, so an average-sized U.S. dairy herd can mow down more than 8 tons per day – that’s five acres worth every single day! Intensive livestock production also consumes vast quantities of water.
5) Cattle are fed antibiotics and hormones
Because of crowded living conditions, animals raised for food are often fed antibiotics and hormones, which can transfer into your body when you eat their meat.
So before you eat a hamburger, ask your server about how many pounds of antibiotics or hormones were pumped into it. If he or she doesn’t know, that’s a red flag.
You should also keep an eye out for warning labels from groups like Rainforest Action Network. The group maintains lists of restaurants that practice these harmful practices so you can avoid them at all costs.
Start by reducing your intake of beef and look for organic alternatives wherever possible—not only is organic more humane, but those farms are much less likely to use chemicals on their crops than conventional ones.
6) Rainforests are cut down to make room for livestock
The most common cause of deforestation is livestock production—particularly beef. Large swaths of forest are cut down to make room for grazing cattle, with a single steer requiring 20-40 acres of pastureland, according to The Sierra Club.
With one-third of all beef produced worldwide coming from rainforest land and increasing demand for cheap meat, rainforests are under constant threat from ranchers and developers.
By switching out chicken or pork for grass-fed beef or choosing plant proteins like beans and lentils instead, you can help curb some of that harm and reduce your carbon footprint at home.
7) Raising livestock takes too much water
Nearly two-thirds of Earth’s freshwater supply is being used for agriculture, a majority of which goes toward raising livestock.
Raising animals like cattle and pigs requires huge amounts of land and feed—which can be problematic when dealing with issues such as deforestation and water scarcity.But what if you could get those same nutrients—and protein—from a fungus?
Mushrooms don’t require much energy to grow, making them one of the most efficient protein sources on Earth; according to Slate , more than 30 pounds of mushrooms can be grown from just one pound of low-grade compost.
8) Consumer habits have an effect on deforestation
While deforestation is a complex issue, it doesn’t take much for each of us to have an impact.
Most of us aren’t directly cutting down trees on a regular basis—in fact, most people don’t have anything to do with deforestation at all—but that doesn’t mean our consumption habits don’t affect it.
Consumer habits drive demand, and when companies know we want something they provide it, even if that something happens to be soy-based beef alternatives.
We can fight back by choosing foods that are better for forests and promoting them over those which are bad for them; after all, many companies will listen when we show them exactly what we want.