By Tess Hausenblas
Not only are plant-based diets shown to be better for the physical health of humans, but also better for the environment. This is because it's more efficient. One way to look at this is that animals eat plants, so instead of eating these animals, we should just eat the plants that they eat, instead of this 2 step process. This way, it's more efficient for humans, instead of having to give water and provide food, land, and habitat for these animals, it would be simply the plants that are there to grow. With habitat, cattle ranching is, in fact, responsible for 80% of the deforestation rates in the Amazon, which becomes a huge problem with oxygen regulation worldwide (Hunnes, 2021).
Livestock animals are famous for their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, especially cows. They are responsible for 65% of emissions from livestock animals. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is approximately 30 times more detrimental to the environment than CO2 is. The methane production from these cows is due to the fact that they ferment food in a chamber of their stomach during digestion. From cows belching and flatulence, this gas then gets released into the atmosphere, with nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide. From this, the methane absorbs radiation from the sun and traps heat, helping to contribute to climate change (Hudepohl, 2021). Studies show that greenhouse gases are greatly reduced from switching to plant alternative diets. Where carbon emissions from 1 gram of protein from beef are 7.5 times higher than 1 gram of protein from a plant source according to Nutrition Reviews (Hudepohl, 2021).
It was also proven that it’s more efficient to eat plant-based foods than animal-based foods when we are talking about water conservation. Water usage is much greater with livestock farms, and thus the production of meats and dairy products than it is for plant-based products. To put this into perspective: 1 pound of beef (which is 90-100 grams of protein) costs about 20-80 gallons of water per gram of protein, whereas 1 pound of tofu (which produces 45-55 grams of protein) Costs about 6 gallons of water per gram protein (Hunnes, 2021). You can see from this that it is more efficient and ultimately cost-effective to choose plant-based instead of animal products.
I personally try to cut meat and dairy products out of my diet as much as possible. I drink coconut milk or almond milk as an alternative to cow's milk. I put nutritional yeast on my pizzas instead of mozzarella cheese. I incorporate tofu and chickpeas as proteins into recipes instead of animal proteins. I always have a container of hummus in the fridge for a snack as needed and adding nuts to recipes are good sources of protein as well.
I am by no means advocating as a vegetarian or vegan, however, those are a few tips on how I can help reduce carbon emissions by shifting away from animal products and towards plant-based products. Lastly, I want to share one of my favorite plant-based recipes with you, that's so easy to make and so delicious!
Buffalo Chicken Salad
15- oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup diced carrots, divided (1 large carrot)
1/3 cup diced celery, divided (about 1 large stalk), plus celery leaves for garnish
3 Tbsp Frank’s Red Hot Original
1 Tbsp plain dairy-free Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp lemon juice, divided
Romaine or Bibb leaves for serving
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.
Once it begins to shimmer, add the chickpeas, spreading them in a single layer, and let cook undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they brown a bit.
Stir, add the garlic and salt and cook for a minute more.
Transfer the chickpeas to a large bowl and add 1/4 cup carrots and 1/4 cup celery.
Fold in the Frank’s, yogurt, 1 Tbsp lemon juice; stir gently until combined.
In a separate bowl, toss the remaining diced celery and carrots with the remaining 1/2 tsp lemon juice and set aside.
To serve the chickpeas, top them with the reserved celery and carrots, and a big handful of celery leaves. Scoop the salad onto a lettuce leaf, wrap, and enjoy!
*NOTE: You can also use an air fryer instead of a skillet, add the oil and wait until the chickpeas are brown and crisp (5-10 minutes). Follow the same instructions from step 3.
Hudepohl, D. (2021). Plant-Based Diets and Environmental Sustainability. Retrieved From
Hunnes, D. (2021). The Case for Plant Based. Retrieved from