Resources: How to Take Extinction Off Your Plate
In a world with more than 7 billion people — and growing — the toll on wildlife is impossible to ignore. Animals and plants are being driven to extinction at unprecedented rates by habitat loss, pollution and climate change. Most scientists believe we’re in the sixth mass planetary extinction crisis and the first one caused by homo sapiens through our species’ rampant population growth and voracious consumption habits. One of the biggest threats to other forms of life, and to the planet’s natural systems, comes from meat production. (Learn more about the impact of meat production on the environment.)
By choosing to incorporate more plant-based meals for you and your family, you can take extinction off your plate. The more you reduce your meat consumption, the more you’ll have a positive impact on saving wildlife, habitat and the planet, with an entirely plant-based diet having the smallest environmental footprint. We’re in this together — and together we can shrink the demand for meat before it’s too late for wildlife.
Cutting just one-third of the meat from your diet can save as much as 340,667 gallons of water, more than 4,000 square feet of land, and the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 2,700 fewer miles per year.
Learn more and take the pledge for an Earth-friendly diet.
STEP 1: Eat Less Meat
The less beef, chicken, pork and other meat you consume, the greater the positive impact on the planet and other species. We know that changing your diet can feel challenging, which is why we’ve provided resources below to help get you started. Not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge of reducing your meat consumption by one-third? Start with one meal a week. If every American eliminated meat just one night a week, the emissions savings would be like taking 30 million to 40 million cars off the road for a year.
Even better, go meatless for one day a week. Try Meatless Monday (or Meat Free Monday in the UK) — a movement that’s inspired celebrities, schools and cities to commit to plant-based meals one day a week. Reducing meat consumption is not only crucial to protecting wildlife, the planet and natural resources, it’s also healthier for you and your family. Check out those websites for additional resources on how to get started.
STEP 2: Spread the Word
There are a lot of additional ways to “take extinction off your plate,” from choosing local, organic produce to joining the Center for Biological Diversity’s Bluefin Boycott. But one of the most important things you can do is help the movement grow.
Share the Earth-friendly Diet Pledge with your friends and ask them to join you in taking the pledge.
Many people worry that they won’t get enough protein if they reduce their meat consumption. But the average American eats almost twice the daily recommended intake of protein. Plus, meat has been associated with serious health problems, from high blood pressure to increased risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer. Learn more about the health risks of a meat-intensive diet.
It’s easy to meet your daily protein needs from healthy, plant-based sources. Nuts, beans, seeds, tofu, tempeh and quinoa are all meatless sources of protein that are easy to prepare and easy on your budget. (Choose organic where possible.) Protein can even be found in vegetables, such as spinach (2.1 grams per 2 cups raw) and broccoli (8.1 grams per one cup chopped).
Cutting meat from your meals is easier than you might think and can be fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Host a Potluck for the Planet: Invite friends and family over to share their favorite meatless recipes.
- Create an Earth-friendly Office: Your coworkers are probably already into recycling and saving energy, so why not make the break room a little greener by taking turns bringing in meat-free lunches or snacks to share?
Think Global, Eat Local: Hang out at your local farmers’ market. Not only will you find fresh, seasonal produce, but the vendors usually have great preparation ideas. (Find your nearest farmers’ market with the interactive map at Local Harvest or download Locavore, a free searchable app.)
Virtual Recipe Swap: Start a recipe-sharing Pinterest board or Instagram your latest, greatest planet-friendly creation. (Check out Pinterest board ideas now.)
Earth-friendly Diet on the Go: If you’re on the road or don’t feel like cooking, download the Happy Cow app to find restaurants and hotspots with meatless options wherever you are.
Meatless doesn’t mean tasteless; get creative with your green meals. There are thousands of delicious meat-free recipes to help you take extinction off your plate. Start with these mouth-watering recipes contributed by top chefs and food bloggers that are so delicious, you won’t miss the meat. Or check out some of our other favorite recipe resources:
- Cooking Light’s 25 Best Vegetarian Recipes
- Vegetarian Times Recipe Collection
- I’m Hungry (an Android app for vegetarian recipes)
- Green Kitchen (an iPhone app for healthy vegetarian recipes).
Have a recipe or resource you’d like to share? Email us at EarthFriendlyDiet@biologicaldiversity.org.
- Why Choose an Earth-Friendly Diet?
- How to Take Extinction Off Your Plate
- Extinction-free BBQ
- Featured Recipes
- Earth-friendly Diet Flyer
- Population and Sustainability
- Bluefin Boycott