Reducing Beef Consumption Helps the Rainforest

Here at Rainforest Foundation US, some of us are vegan, some vegetarian and some committed omnivores. But on World Vegan Day we can all agree: reducing your consumption of animal products — especially beef — can go a long way to improving our shared ecological future.

Why change your eating habits?

1. Energy Efficiency: Beef is an astronomically energy-intensive product. Very little of the energy used to raise a cow ends up on your plate. Lentils, beans and nuts are excellent ways to get the essential nutrients of beef while avoiding the ecological price tag.
2. Water Pollution: Cattle ranches and pork farms pour their refuse and excess fertilizer into waterways throughout the Amazon, killing fish, causing unhealthy algae blooms, and often contaminating the water upon which indigenous communities depend.
3. Methane: Cows burp. Their belches contain methane in high volumes. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and makes up a large part of all agricultural emissions.
4. Deforestation: Deforestation is perhaps the most crucial reason to cut back on your meat consumption. Today, cattle ranching continues to be the biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon; by some estimates it accounts for 4/5 of the rainforest lost in South America. As of 2015, the embargo against Brazilian beef was lifted, making it more and more likely that the meat you buy comes from deforested land!

So what can you do?

  • Meatless Mondays: Consider skipping animal products once per week; if you do it on Monday, you will be part of global community of people committed to helping the environment (and your health).
  • Buy locally raised grass fed beef (unless, of course, you live in a tropical rainforest).
  • Advocate for change. In the past, the US government has placed restrictions on uncertified beef imports.

Though the problem at hand is  larger than any one individual’s contribution, every effort helps to ensure that our world remains a hospitable habitat for generations to come.

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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.