Green Tip of the Week: Eating Green

Surprise—taking meat off your menu could be a greener option than giving up your car.

A 2006 report from The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet. And, it is also a major source of land and water degradation.

The methane emissions from cows have 21 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. But that's not the only problem. More and more forests are being cleared for pastures to feed all these animals. And as the trees disappear, so does the earth’s natural method of storing carbon.

The problem is getting worse. According to the FAO, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries has doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002. The FAO predicts that meat production will double by 2050.

So, what can you do?

Start by reducing the amount of animal products in your diet. Replace the meat and cheese with healthier beans, legumes, whole grains and extra servings of fruits and vegetables.These days, vegetarian options are (almost!) everywhere. You can find a wide variety of resources, recipes and tips on the Internet or in your local bookstore.

Greening your diet (literally) is a simple way to make a big difference in your health and the environment.

Explore sustainability at the Design for a Living World exhibition and photo essay in Chicago! For more information, visit www.nature.org/DesignIllinois.

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