Quantcast

New Online Calculator Lets You See the Impact of Your Meat Intake

iStock

By Robin Scher

One of my resolutions this year is to eat less meat. As a lifelong carnivore, this task has already proven to be easier said than done. The major challenge comes down to changing my habits. After years of enjoying bacon with my eggs for breakfast, I now associate its comforting greasy taste with the feeling of fullness. So how do I—and others like me—overcome this obstacle? One big challenge is finding a way to stay motivated.


Enter the Meat Blitz-Calculator.

Major reasons for cutting down on meat have to do with the health, environmental and animal welfare impact of this dietary choice. It may be easy to understand the negative consequences meat-eating has for your heart, the climate or animals on factory farms, but it's another matter when it comes to relating these impacts directly to your own consumption habits. This is where the calculator comes in.

The first question the calculator asks is whether you eat meat. If you answer yes, the calculator displays three predetermined average values for the amount of poultry, pork and beef in ounces you consume in a week. These figures—based on information taken from a USDA database—represent the national average for Americans and can be adjusted accordingly. The calculator then asks you to fill in what percentage of meat you would be willing to replace with vegetarian food in your diet.

This is where things get interesting. Based on further USDA statistics, the calculator displays the direct impact your dietary decision could have over the course of a decade. This information comes in two parts. The first set of figures shows how much water, CO2 and antibiotics would be spared by committing to your change in diet. The calculator also displays an infographic that represents the number of pigs, cows and chickens you would save from the slaughtering block.

What difference can this make to your habits, you may wonder? It comes down to shifting perspectives. Using the averages of the calculator, I committed to a 60 percent reduction over the next decade. By crunching the numbers, the calculator revealed the full impact my dietary decision could have on both my own wellbeing as well as the environment and animals (the latter two often require an imaginative leap that our stomachs—and cognitive dissonance—help us overlook).

Now the next time I'm tempted to eat a burger or a steak, I will be able to picture the cumulative impact of my decision. It's easy enough to dismiss the choices we make on a daily basis, but it becomes a lot harder when you start to consider the difference your decisions alone can make over a long period of time.

In order to do something I don't want to do, I need a good incentive. Ignorance might be bliss, but knowledge is power. Now that I understand the full impact of what I decide to eat for every meal, it has become a lot easier to avoid temptation. This change in behavior may not seem significant at first, but as the calculator helped me to realize, every little bit counts.

Want to eat less meat? Check out four easy tips to reduce your intake.

Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.

Sponsored
zeljkosantrac / E+ / Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Hrefna Palsdottir, MS

Oats are considered to be one of the healthiest grains on earth. Find out why and how to incorporate this breakfast staple into your morning routine.

Read More Show Less
Youth activists ages 11-18 learn to fight plastic pollution at the inaugural Ocean Heroes Bootcamp. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp

By 2018 Ocean Heroes: Claire MacQueen (13 years old), Sabine Thomas (13) and Ava Inskeep (14)

We despise single-use plastics. We want to keep our oceans and our beaches clean. Early last year I (Claire) lived in India for several months and became curious about plastic waste, as it was much more visible in India than back home in the U.S. Seeing all the plastic waste while I was visiting helped me to understand that much of the trash produced by the U.S. actually ends up in developing countries, like India, which does not have a proper waste management system like we do at home, which causes a ton of trash to end up in waterways and the ocean.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in South Carolina on Jan. 21. Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Tuesday that he will run for president in 2020, becoming the latest candidate in a crowded Democratic primary field to promise a Green New Deal if elected, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Degraded coral reefs at Kahekili Beach Park in west Maui, Hawaii. Peter Swarzenski / Usgs

In a case watched closely both by polluting industries and clean water advocates across the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up an appeal of a Clean Water Act case out of Hawaii concerning treated sewage flowing into the Pacific Ocean from injection wells.

Read More Show Less
A woman works at a distrubiton station at the 855,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City, on Feb. 5. JOHANNES EISELE / AFP / Getty Images

Amazon will strive to cut carbon emissions from its shipments in half by 2030, the e-commerce giant said Monday. The retailer's plan calls for an increase in the use of electric delivery vehicles and renewable energy as well as pressuring suppliers to use less packaging.

Read More Show Less