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LETTER: Plant-based diets are better for you, animals, planet

One day it was a sunny, 60 degrees Fahrenheit and I spent my time enjoying the warmth. The next, I woke up and snow was accumulating all around me. Was this normal? I didn’t think so. For those of us in the Rutgers and New Brunswick communities, we’ve noticed this change. The warmer winters and sporadic extremes in weather have caught our attention. What can we do to make a difference?

Well, the best way to combat change is with change. When most of us think about saving the environment we think "big and bold." Replacing cars with bikes and using less electricity are options. However, these ideas and methods aren’t the most practical in our modern world. But what if you could make a change to your diet that would benefit you and the planet? 

By switching to a plant-based diet, you can help the environment. Cutting out the meat and dairy products you consume can help reduce the amount of global greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere. The United Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of the total greenhouse emissions. Furthermore, factory farms produce 300 million tons of waste that contribute to the production of methane — which is even worse for the environment than carbon dioxide. A plant-based diet can severely cut the creation of these harmful gasses. Research suggests that 20 servings of vegetables have fewer greenhouse emissions than one serving of beef.

It's not just the meat industry that is having a harmful effect on the environment, it’s the dairy one too. By cutting out dairy products you can save the amount of water used. It is estimated that it takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk. I bet many of us can think of better ways to use that water. 

If you are looking for a more direct impact of a plant-based diet, consider deforestation. Animal agriculture is one of the major contributors to deforestations and threatens a large percentage of endangered animals and plants. On top of that factory farms are known for their extreme cruelty and inhumane treatment to animals.

The benefits of a plant-based diet don’t stop at helping the environment and animals. These modified diets can also help prevent certain types of cancers, diabetes and coronary heart diseases. So what’s not to love? It helps you, it helps animals, it helps the world. It’s time to make change.

Derek Musser is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in psychology. 

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