Over the course of this semester I have explored in depth climate change caused by animal agriculture. I started this process with an established awareness and concern about the environmental impacts of raising animals as livestock and wanted to further explore the extent of this …
Although the number of livestock being raised for consumption is more than ever before in this day and age, a shift can be seen in the variety of food being offered to the public. More and more we can witness a supply of “plant-based” foods. …
The Reducetarian Foundation (RF) is a non-profit organization that works to reduce societal consumption of meat and animal products in an effort to protect the environment, improve human health, and diminish cruelty of farm animals. RF envisions a world in which societal consumption of red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy is significantly reduced. They chose to avoid an all-or-nothing approach and recognize than any form of reduction of consumption of animal products is going to make a significant difference.
RF works towards this mission through education, engagement, and research. To spread awareness of this idea and movement, RF implements paid online advertising campaigns, they create viral worthy, educational videos, and develop college campus clubs. This organization has also released a book called The Reducetarian Solution and a cookbook, The Reducetarian Cookbook. The book dives into how great of an impact on the environment, people, and animals reducing meat consumption can be. RF outwardly recognizes that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of air and water pollution, poses many health risks to local communities, is responsible for global biodiversity loss, and other environmental degrading effects. The Reducetarian Cookbook guides readers to cook more plant-based meals. This organization also conducts research to better understand the effectiveness of various messages in pushing for a more plant-based future. Founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, Brian Kateman, is also a TEDx speaker, an instructor in the Executive Education Program at the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability at Columbia University, and a leading expert on food systems and behavioral change. Kateman has approached this issue on a societal, individual-action level. To reduce animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change he identifies behavior change as the solution.
RF challenges people across the world to become a reducetarian. A reducetarian is defined as someone who engages in the practice of eating less meat – red meat, poultry, and seafood – as well as less dairy and fewer eggs, regardless of the degree or motivation. By choosing to limit your consumption of animal products in any way you can be considered a reducetarian. Reducetarianism is still inclusive of vegans and vegetarians, but aims to acknowledge any form of cutback of animal product consumption. This concept seeks to find common ground for vegans and meateaters and avoids the all-or-nothing approach to this subject.
The Reducetarian Foundation work seems to be directly linked to people as consumers. This organization works to change individual behavior and avoids consulting stakeholders and approaching this issue politically. While, this is not necessarily negative that this organization is not engaging in creating change through these ways, it is important to recognize where and how organizations are working to accomplish something so that we can understand their effectiveness.
In understanding an organization’s effectiveness of accomplishing sustainability it is important to remember the 3 realms of sustainability. True sustainability considers the environment, economics, and society. RF clearly tackles environmental sustainability. As an organization they understand the strong link between animal agriculture and climate change. RF directly works to increase understanding of this impact and to change behaviors to diminish this problem. RF also clearly illustrates the social side of sustainability. RF acknowledges the detrimental health effects of animal production consumption and the animal cruelty linked to animal consumption. The animal agriculture industry contributes to social inequality and inequity and RF directly works to minimize the size and power of that industry. As far as being economically sustainable, RF seems to recognize the demand for meat and animal products as being linked to an obsession with cheap meat. The current animal agriculture system is economically unsustainable in that way. RF works to move away from that system and to move towards an agriculture system that supports individual health and well being and environmental protection and preservation.
Having only been founded in 2015, The Reducetarian Foundation is a rapidly growing foundation that seeks to combat environmental issues, public health issues, and animal rights issues by understanding societal behaviors and encouraging a reduction of meat consumption. They are effectively doing so by accomplishing sustainability in a holistic way.
Discover the Reducetarian movement on your own by visiting https://reducetarian.org
As we begin to dive into the issue of climate change and how animal agriculture has contributed to this process, we need to understand how different parts of this problem influence each other within the entire system. This way of thinking is referred to as …
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports by the year 2100, we can expect sea levels will rise up to 4 feet, the global temperature to rise by several more degrees, and increasing changes in extreme weather. With sufficient evidence we have …
The Power of the Fork
“Yet, as environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future: deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” —Worldwatch Institute, “Is Meat Sustainable”
For most of my life when I thought of how to help the environment my mind would go to behaviors such as recycling and minimizing my personal water and energy use. I learned to question my own actions and recognize the impacts of my behaviors as an individual. I knew these small actions affected the environment and made choices to reduce these behaviors. Yet, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I was exposed to the greater effects of other behaviors I was choosing to engage in that caused environmental degradation an even greater scale. I learned that although transportation, fossil fuels, and other industries are large contributors to climate change, it is actually agriculture that causes the most harm in terms of the environment.
It can be very intimidating to look at an issue as large as climate change through an individualized lense. When we begin to analyze our own contributions to climate change it can be easier to shut these ideas down and create no change in our behavior at all. The increasingly detrimental and pressing state of our environment can present the idea that we need change much greater than individual action. This is true. We need to see changes in policy and on all levels of the agriculture system, but there is also great change that can occur from just one individual. It is impossible for one person to reverse the effects of climate change but there is still immense power and possibility in each person’s individual choices. Start small.
By choosing to not eat just one quarter-pound burger you can save 14.6 gallons of water, 13.5 pounds of feed, 64.5 square feet of land, .126 pounds of methane, and 4 pounds of greenhouse gases. Making the choice to refuse a burger is equivalent to not driving your car for 320 miles. Out of the many types of animal products, beef seems to have the most negative environmental impact. The typical American diet that includes the consumption of beef annually produces 1,984 pounds of CO2. Cattle naturally produce methane and in excess they have contributed to the agriculture industry accounting for 44% of anthropogenic methane emissions. There is a loss of resources at every level of raising and producing cattle for consumption. Taking steps towards reducing the amount of beef in one’s diet would have a great effect on reducing CO2 emissions, methane emissions, deforestation, water and land use, and other contributors to environmental degradation.
Projects such as Meatless Monday work to enforce this idea of choosing to abstain from animal products when you can. Any form of abstinence is celebrated and recognized as a step towards helping our environment and agriculture system. The Meatless Monday movement also recognizes the health and ethical benefits of eliminating meat from ones diet.
The more one chooses to pass up on a meal containing meat and instead chose a plant based meal the more environmental and health benefits one can cause.
In just one day of eating plant based, one can save 1,100 gallons of water, 45 lbs grain, 30 square feet of forest, 20 lbs of CO2, and 1 animals life.
In just one month of being vegan one individual alone can save 33,000 gallons of water, 1,200 lbs of grain, 900 square feet of forest, 600 lbs of CO2, and 30 animals lives.
On a greater scale, In one year one can save 401,500 gallons of water, 14,600 lbs of grain, 10,950 square feet of forest, 7,300 lbs of CO2, and 365 animals lives.
Make the choice to eliminate meat from your diet when you can. Even just one meal absent of meat or other animal products has an effect on our environment and its resources.
To learn more about transferring to a plant based diet check out: