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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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Meat

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.