What would happen if everyone suddenly became vegetarian?

It would change our economy and our environment in drastic ways.

“What if everyone in the world was suddenly a vegetarian—what effect would it have on our lives and on the planet?”

The team over at AsapScience break this question down in a new video.

  • \nWithout any demand for meat, entire herds of domestically raised animals would disappear. That would free up the 33 million square kilometers of land used for pasture.
  • \nLoss of trees to soak up CO2 is one of the major factors in global warming, and the freed-up land (collectively, the size of Africa) would help balance CO2 levels. Cows alone account for a great amount of methane (CH4) gas production, and the decrease in dependence on livestock—which produces as much as 15 percent of greenhouse gases—would greatly reduce CH4 levels.
  • \nIt would also greatly reduce water consumption. For example, it takes 15,000 liters of water to make one kilogram of beef, compared to the 300 liters it takes for a kilogram garden vegetables.
  • The costs? No leather production, and no animal fats—which are used in cosmetics, detergents, and many other products. Also, livestock production is the job of 1 billion people.

With vegetarians numbering as low as 4 to 5 percent of the population in the United States (and 30 percent in India), this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But the scenario helps us get our minds around how much our planet has been transformed by our meat eating.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

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