How to Reduce Your Carbon and Save Money: Become a Vegetarian.

About: I am a domestic engineer, aka. a stay at home Mom. A former science geek, scenic carpenter, and quilter.

I would love to drive an electric car. I would love to install solar panels on my roof. But like many people I just can't afford to. A simple easy way to be good to the environment is to stop eating meat. (Or at least cut down on your meat consumption)

A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations produced startling findings: The animals' burps, the nitrous oxide gases from their decomposing manure and other factors, including the energy needed to store and transport meat, were responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - more than the entire transportation sector.

Here are some simple things you can do to reduce your meat intake.

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Step 1: You Don't Have to Eat Tofu.

To start eating less meat, think about the things you like to eat that don't have meat in them, or things where the meat is not important.
Think Italian: spaghetti with red sauce, lasagna, pizza. Try vegetarian chilli instead of regular chilli. Burritos with just beans, and veggies.
Incorperating meatless meals that you already enjoy is a good start.
If you're worried about not getting enough protein with your pasta, try the protein pasta from Barilla, if comes in the yellow box. It's made with chick pea flour, and it's really good.

If you're brave you can venture onto simple substitutions. Soy milk tastes just like regular milk when you bake with it. Veggie burgers are really yummy. They don't taste like meat, they just taste good. There are all sorts of frozen meat substitutes. Some are really good, some are gross, but it's a matter of taste. Try putting soy crumbles instead of ground meat in your pasta sauce or tacos. Overcooking the soy products makes them BAD. Just warm them up.

It took me years before I started eating tofu on a regular basis. A good way to start eating it is ordering tofu meals from a chinese restaurant, they're pros at making tofu tasty. There are quite a few instructables on making your own baked tofu, which is really delicious. It has a firm texture and a lot of flavor.

Step 2: Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit.

Beans are really good for you and really cheap. They are our main staple in the winter, when there are not many fresh fruits and veggies to eat. Just follow the directions on the bag. Usually you soak them in water overnight. Cook them with a lot of garlic, and yum yum, enjoy.

Quinoa is another great source of protein. It is a grain, you cook it like rice. It is a perfect protein, meaning it contains the correct balance of amino acids, which's really good for you.

Start trying different combinations of grains, beans and veggies. They are really tasty and satisfying.

A note on farting:
Switching to eating a lot of bean and veggies can, well.. make you fart.
Make sure you drink lots of water, chew your food thoroughly, and in a few days your body will be used to it. Beano helps too.

Step 3: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Growing your own veggies is a lot of fun. You always have fresh produce on hand. If you can't grow stuff yourself, consider joining a CSA. (community supported agriculture) They are all over the place and a good source of vegetables. You go to your pickup site, and get a box of veggies to take home. You usually don't get to pick what kind of vegetables you get. This is a good way to force yourself to eat all kinds of fresh veggies that you might never think to buy, or aren't even available at the grocery store. Plus you have to eat them before you get more the next week.

Step 4: Don't Have a Cow, Man.

Every bite of meat you don't eat is a step in the right direction.
If everybody has one meatless day a week, that would make a big difference.
Go ahead and drive your Hummer, just order a salad.

There are LOTS of instructables for all sorts of meatless meals. Check them out.

I've been a vegetarain for 8 years, and I hope to encourage more people to eat less meat.

Thanks for reading!!!

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    42 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 4

    My doctor advised me to cut back on animal fats and I have by trying tofu and eating more veggies and whole grains, nuts, dairy products, and of course, seafood. I can't eat meat continuously anymore since I have tried and succeeded with my tofu "lasagne". Also, I eat more fresh summer vegetables and started making simple homemade soups and stews. I won't eat hamburger anymore because it's tasteless and expensive. So I order expensive eye round and only eat it every once in a while. I'll eat anything that tastes good so iI don't have to depend on animal fats anymore. My downfall is mayonnaise and cheese.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

    You can easily make a mayo substitute with mayonaise. I will be posting an instructable about how to make it in a couple days, but basically you just blend tofu, garlic, brewers yeast, salt, pepper, onion powder up with a little soy milk and voila. Tastes really good on sandwiches.

    Ok, let's suppose that everyone became vegetarian. What would happen to the millions of farm animals which would be rendered comercially useless and therefore (financially) worthless? 1) Farmers wouldn't pay for veterinary treatment because they wouldn't have any financial incentive to do so. Animals would be left to suffer because of this. 2) (In the case of veganism) we'd either have to continue to milk cows but throw it away (wasteful), or allow them to have calves (to suckle the milk) in which case their population would increase exponentially, thereby creating more 'greenhouse gases'. Unless you cull them to control their numbers, in which case you may as well eat them... 3) If we continued to consume milk from cows (but not their meat), they'd still need land to graze on, but... 4) would also have to use the fields previously used for grazing cattle to grow vegetables (because of the huge increase in demand) - so where would the cows/other livestock go? To run wild and free? Personally, I don't fancy having a cow crash through the windshield because it ran out onto the road... Nice idea but the whole thing seems like Catch-22.

    11 replies

    well, I don't expect everyone to stop eating meat all on the same day. hopefully it would be a gradual decrease in the demand for livestock, and gradually over time farms would switch hfrom growing meat, to growing plants.

    Fair enough, but that would still leave the problem of what would happen to the few remaining animals. Farmers would still be reluctant to graze cattle on valuable crop growing land (especially since the profit margin on vegetables in smaller than on livestock). So you'd still end up with livestock being released into the wild, where they'd breed (and even though it would take a while) you'd end up with even more cattle. Just look at how many bison there were in the United States before people began hunting them en masse in the 19th Century.

    Also, if there were fewer cows there'd be less milk. Less milk = less cheese. Fewer chickens = less eggs. Less of anything means higher prices. So basically, only the rich could be vegetarian (they'd be the only ones able to afford milk, cheese and eggs) and the poor would be forced to be vegan.

    I think it's a good idea in principle, but I just don't think it's practical.

    I agree with louie_gee_gee.
    Also, veggie burgers do not taste good they taste terrible. That's an opinion.
    It doesn't make a difference at the end of the day, if you eat plants or eat both plants and meat. Your body breaks every it all down into what it needs. So whether it ends up being protein, carbon, etc the body doesn't care. True breaking down meat can take longer but our bodies have evolved to naturally be omnivores, regardless. It's fine if you choose to change your diet but if you eat more meat or more vegetarian/vegan you will still lack something from the other side and have to make up for it in your current diet. This is why our bodies were designed to simply eat both.
    Most people in society who eat both unfortunately tend to eat more meat than veggies and fruit, and that's really where the problem is. It's not that they're eating meat it's that there's too much meat in some of their diets. If you have someone eat the completely correct amount of all kinds of foods they will likely be a happy, healthy human.
    So do I think we should lessen the meat we have in our diet? Sure. Just like I think we should lessen our dependency on oil. But do I think we should go vegetarian or some variation? Heck no. I think people just need to be more aware of what they are putting in their bodies and how much portions of each they're intaking.


    Soy milk and do away with all the animals.  I'm not saying I agree with any of this.  In fact I am going to eat a big steak for lunch.  But soy is the valid answer.


    How likely is it that meat consumption will end over night? Obviously the phasing out of animals for human consumption would be a lengthy process. As for what would happen to the animals, there are many farm animal sanctuaries that would be glad to take them to live out their lives in peace. 1) Farmers don't pay for veterinary treatment now. There could be no worse suffering that what they currently experience in factory farms. 2) Cows produce milk in the same way that humans do. They already have give birth to a calf in order to produce milk. Instead of suckling their mother's milk they get stuck in a tiny cage and used for veal. No species (including humans) were ever meant to consume milk from anyone besides their mother and never past whichever age that they were weaned. 3) An average cows life span is 20 years. So if we stopped breeding them they would eventually die out. Some farm animals would revert back to the wild, but that would be between them and nature. As it is, there are many animals nearing extinction, some due to global warming. Animal agriculture is a huge contributer to global warming....... See where I'm getting with this? 4) Farmed Animals eat about 75% of the vegetables grown on earth. They also eat an incredible amount of fish. Oceans are being overfished and are experiencing dead zones due to factory farming. If people stopped consuming animals we would nearly solve global warming and world hunger issues. I don't know why it would displease anyone to have animals running free and coexisting with you the way they were intended to. Vegetarianism is a subject that everyone should explore, especially after what happened with the swine flu (smithfield farms). But vegetarianism should be a stepping stone to veganism. The practice of drinking cows milk and eating eggs (chickens menstruation product) is really unnatural. Please do some investigating! Explore both sides of the argument, but remember that animal agriculture in a BIG business and they want you to keep eating meat which is bad for you.


    You state that there are "many farm animal sanctuaries that would be glad to take them to live out their lives in peace" - this well intentioned comment seems contradictory as you later on advocate the extinction farm animals. ("So if we stopped breeding them they would eventually die out.") 1) Where did you get the idea that farmers don't pay for veterinary treatment? I'm pretty sure vets don't do much pro bono work... If these costs are later passed to the consumer, then so is the cost of feeding the animal - that is the nature of commerce. Also, not all farm animals are raised on 'factory farms'; there are many excellent free range farms. I am staunchly against factory farming, and I resent any implication otherwise. 2) Yes, but my point was that cows will never only have one calf. They will breed many times throughout their life, especially if they were released into the wild where their breeding would be completely unchecked. I do agree that the practice of treating calves (for veal) in this manner is wrong - though as I have already pointed out, not every farm animal is raised on a 'factory farm' and I feel that is an important distinction. 3) Am I to take it that you are pro-extinction then? Judging from your comment, that would seem to be the case. Bio-diversity is precious and the loss of a species is not a trivial matter as it often has repercussion upon other animals. Advocating the extinction of an entire species simply because they are domesticated doesn't seem like a particularly eco-friendly method of climate control. After all, aren't cows, chickens etc. just as much a part of nature as bees, butterflies etc? 4) True. But farm animals also produce a large proportion of the fertilisers used to grow those vegetables. Fewer farm animals would mean less manure and so chemical substitutes would be needed. Without continual renewal of the nutrients in the soil (through the use of fertiliser), successive crops grown in the fields would eventually become weaker year-on-year. Milk and eggs have both been proven to be extremely beneficial to health. A study conducted over 40 years by the universities of Reading, Cardiff and Bristol found that milk drinkers on average lead longer lives. And the practice of consuming them is not as unnatural as you seem to believe; even humans who have been vegetarian/vegan for many years have protein-digesting bacteria in their stomachs which is continually produced by their bodies. Also, I'm pretty sure that encountering a wild bull would be "displeasing" to many people. I have extensively investigated vegetarianism, and as a pragmatist, I weighed both sides of the argument and came to the conclusion that vegetarianism simply isn't practical. I implore you to "do some investigating!" too.

    Sorry, I just realised that I left out the word 'meat' in this sentence. I meant to write "even humans who have been vegetarian/vegan for many years have meat-protein-digesting bacteria in their stomachs which is continually produced by their bodies." Just wanted to be clear. :-)


    I’m not sure how you feel my statement is contradictory. Farm sanctuaries take in animals that have one way or another escaped from their fate as a farmed animal. They care for those animals, but by law cannot allow them to breed. They are given everything they need including veterinary care which has been denied to them. Many come to the sanctuaries as downed animals that have been left to die because it is not cost effective to take them to a vet. There are many states that are trying to put an end to this practice, but for most farm animals there are no laws protecting them from cruelty. Animal cruelty laws usually pertain to dogs and cats and sometimes horses. Food animals don’t have the luxury of being treated humanely in most cases. Here are a few references if you’re interested in challenging your beliefs:
    I personally believe that we should stop eating them and help integrate them back into the wild. I am for the abolitionist approach to animal rights. As long as the animals are dependent on us to survive we should help them because it is our responsibility. BUT, our goal should be to eventually return them to their natural environment. They should live as closely to the way that they would be in nature while they are with us. Once they are returned to nature then we should leave them be. We should learn to co-exist, rather than dominate. I personally could NEVER watch an animal suffer. If it was starving I would feed it. If it was hurt I would try to help it. If animals were dying because of something we did, we should try to fix the problem, but we should not interfere beyond that.
    1) As for your statement about pro bono veterinarians you should know that farmers are trying to make money. They do not think of their animals as pets, but as products. So when their products need vaccinations they administer them themselves. When they need to be neutered they do it themselves (without anything for pain). When their tails need to be docked or they need to be de-beaked, they do that themselves too. So when an animal that costs them very little to purchase (or even less to breed) becomes ill do you really think they are going to spend hundreds of dollars on a vet to make them feel all better so they can turn around and kill them for some ones dinner?
    It’s great to hear that you are against factory farming, though I doubt you go out of your way to act against it. It’s unfortunate that you think there is much difference between a factory farm and a free range or family owned farm. I challenge you to visit to find out what goes on in those farms as well. Or keep paying double to triple the amount of money for meat that is no different aside from the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you eat it because it soothes your conscience.
    2) Cows couldn’t possibly have any more calves than what they have in a farm. In fact, they are kept pregnant in farms so consistently that when they are “spent” (no longer able to produce milk or babies) they are so ill (from having so many babies) that they can barely even walk to their own death in the slaughterhouse but have to be dragged. Of all the arguments for the continuation of animal slavery, I think this one irritates me the most.
    3) Draw your own conclusions from my comments above. Yes, cows and chickens are as much a part of nature as bees and butterflies, but the cows and chickens found on farms are not exactly natural. They have been modified to grow quickly and fill our bellies as soon as possible. When allowed to live they are usually crippled years before their life expectancy because their legs can’t support their bodies. There are breeds of cattle that are feral as well as other animals that we consider food, and they are important to bio-diversity. But, the breeds that we eat do not naturally occur in nature, therefore in my opinion have no impact on nature should they become extinct.
    4) Again, you’re acting like all of these animals would disappear overnight and none would be able to be reverted back to the wild. I will refer again to Smithfield Farms on matters of poop. As you can read here:
    There is no danger of us running out of poop anytime soon and not all poop is good poop.
    Do you think that milk and eggs were proven to be good for you because they contain protein and calcium? Could it be that the human body needs calcium and protein (which is why we have protein digesting bacteria in our stomachs), but not necessarily milk and eggs? Are you aware that you can get protein and calcium from sources other than milk and eggs? Have you ever heard of lactose intolerance? Did you know that 75% of humans are lactose intolerant because no species was meant to consume milk past the age that they were weaned (and especially not milk from another species than their own)? And lastly, did you know that milk and eggs (as well as the consumption of all other animal parts) have been proven to cause heart disease and is linked to a whole slew of health issues including certain cancers and diabetes? So, way to go on finding a study that says eating milk and eggs is good for you. If you were looking for an article that said the opposite, you would find some of those too. The question you need to ask yourself before you buy into whatever you’re reading is: who is funding these studies? What do they stand to gain from the results and what do they stand to lose? I’m inclined to believe the folks that will neither gain nor lose anything regardless of the results.
    If you’re truly not convinced that milk and eggs are bad for you, can I convince you that they’re just gross? You do realize that eggs are part of the chickens menstrual cycle right? How about the fact that milk contains pus?


    That may be the situation in America, but it is not the situation here in the UK. Animal cruelty laws in this country extend to all animals, both domestic and wild. Farmers here have a legal duty to provide veterinary care for their animals, and failure to do so can result in a £20,000 fine - so it’s definitely in a farmer’s financial interests to pay for veterinary treatment.

    For your information, I do actively “go out of your (my) way to act against it (factory farming)”. I am involved with both CIWF and the RSPCA’s Freedom Food campaign, in fundraising and campaigning. I would also like to point out that I don’t do this to salve my meat-eaters conscience; I do it because I believe it’s wrong to mistreat any living creature. Given that we are far from being the only species in nature to eat other animals, I don’t have any moral objection to eating meat - as long as the animal was not mistreated while alive. As for your assertion that consuming milk and eggs is “gross” - that’s a matter of opinion and a decidedly immature argument. Vultures eat rotten meat - that is gross to us, but not to them. I could equally argue (though I don’t believe it) that eating a plant is gross because it has been crawled upon/been eaten by/had eggs layed upon it by insects. Nature is not pleasant and sanitised, that is a fact of life.

    You state that “Cows couldn’t possibly have any more calves than what they have in a farm.” Again, this simply isn’t true here in the UK. Farmers here prefer their cows to calve in the Spring or early Summer so that the calves may live safely in the pasture in mild weather. (I live in the country so I know this to be true. Spring here brings both lambs and calves to the countryside.) Also, bulls are kept separately so that breeding frequency may be controlled. The menstrual cycle of cattle is 21 days and the gestation period 9 months; if these animals were returned to the wild, this would allow them to breed again after less than 1 month, as opposed to the 3 month interval afforded by breeding once a year on a farm.

    Also, I’d have to disagree with your assertion that “cows and chickens found on farms are not exactly natural”. Again, I don’t know what the situation is in corporate-farm America, but here in the UK there are many very old breeds of farm animal. Chicken breeds include Cream Legbar, Leghorn and Orpington. Cows include Jersey, Guernsey, Ayrshire, and the famous Highland cow. Sheep include Blackface, Bluefaced Leicester and Shropshire . Pigs include Gloucestershire Old Spot and Tamworth. All of these breeds have long histories stretching back centuries.

    My point regarding the availability of manure for fertiliser is still relevant. If farm animals were returned to the wild, there would be the problem of collecting their manure from an extremely large area. While on a farm, the farmer has simply to collect it from places he knows it will be, ie. his fields, and then use it as slurry come Autumn. If these animals were free to roam the country, they would also be free to deposit their faeces anywhere they wished also. This would make collection and utilisation nigh-on impossible. You’re right when you say that “not all poop is good poop” but this is the fault of the same factory farmers who mistreat the animals in the first place - but not all farmers do.

    I am well aware that nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and soy products all contain protein. My point was that our bodies produce enzymes (Bromelaine) specifically designed to break-down protein from meat. This is true even in people who have been vegetarian/vegan for many years. In fact, in severe cases of starvation where immune system functionality is lowered, this enzyme has even been known to begin digesting the victim’s own flesh, usually around the mouth. Just as there are health problems associated with an omnivorous diet, there are also health problems associated with vegetarianism/veganism. Deficiencies in zinc, calcium, Vitamin D, Iron, Vitamin B-12, and protein are common problems. Is it not safe to assume therefore, that there are drawbacks to every diet?

    Yes, you’re also quite right to question who funds studies. But you’re surely not so naïve as to believe that there isn’t a massive vegetarian industry who have vested interests in financing favourable studies also? Soy is highly profitable for some of the world's largest multinational agribusinesses. These include Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland and Solae. These companies stand to make millions from promoting their product. In the past decade, the market for soy has exploded, and soy is now being incorporated into a variety of processed foods, and included in various nutritional supplements.

    There are two sides to every argument are there not?


    9 years ago on Step 1

     But there is a more in depth process in manufacturing and producing meat replacements.  Because they are not a raw material, they undergo a longer and more wasteful production for the product.

    They are also almost always pre-packaged, wasting space and fuel on transport trucks.  Places that sell meat, like your supermarket or butcher, receive it in bulk, and cut/sort/package it there in the store.

    If you wanted to do this, you would have to go totally vegetarian, no meat or meat substitutes.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

     Most meat these days is prepackaged anyway, the meat cut and bulk-packaged at large processing plants owned by IBP or Tyson. The only exception I can think of is deli meat, which is often sliced off of a large hunk of prepackaged meat before your eyes behind the deli counter.

    veggieburgers, etc. aren't much worse than, say, fish sticks or  boneless chicken strips in terms of processing energy.

    If you're still worried about processing, just do it at home. I've come across several recipes for vegetarian/vegan burger patties, sausages, corndogs, etc. Just use your favorite search engine!