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12 foods that are bad for the planet

By: Laura Moss on April 25, 2011, 12:40 p.m.
meat at the grocery store

Photo: Lisa Poole/AP

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According to the Environmental Defense Fund, if every American substituted one meal of chicken with vegetarian food, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads. Here are some of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s findings on meat and the environment:

  • 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock — more than from transportation.
  • 70 percent of previously forested land in the Amazon was cleared to pasture cattle.
  • The world’s largest source of water pollution is the livestock sector.
  • Livestock are responsible for a third of the nitrogen and phosphorus in U.S. freshwater resources.
  • Livestock account for about 20 percent of land animals, and the 30 percent of Earth’s land they occupy was once inhabited by wildlife.