The GOOD 30-Day Challenge: What Did We Save By Going Vegetarian?

The GOOD Go Vegetarian challenge ends today after four meat-free weeks. We’re all feeling great, but we also wanted to quantify the value of our efforts, which is where our fantastic editorial intern Kat came in. Kat did some number-crunching and created the calculations below to find out how much land, water, and grain the GOOD staff saved the planet by not eating meat. Turns out it was quite a lot, which you can read about here. If you went veggie with us, go ahead and calculate your savings and let us know how you did. Happy eating, friends.

-The Average American (AA) eats roughly 230 pounds of meat and poultry a year. That’s about 10 ounces, or two thirds of a pound per day, and about 19 pounds a month.

-For the Average American, 55% of all meat consumed is red meat. 37% is poultry, and 8% is fish. This means that per month, consumption equals out to 10 pounds of red meat, 7.5 pounds of chicken, and 1.5 pounds of fish.

-A slightly below average cut of beef costs roughly $4.50 per pound. Better cuts cost upwards of $10. Chicken typically costs $3-5 a pound. Fish costs $5-7 per pound. According to the percentages above, and usigg the median cost for each type of meat, the AA is spending roughly $111 dollars per month: $72 on red meat, $30 on chicken, and $9 on fish. This equals $1,332 per year. Depending on which type of meat is purchased, that’s about $3.70 a day.

-A serving of meat is roughly 4 ounces and 20 grams of protein (one pound=16 ounces). The USDA recommends 2-3 servings of meat or beans a day.  One cup of cooked beans or legumes has 15-20 grams of protein. A pound of uncooked beans/lentils/legumes costs, on average, 50 cents.  A pound of uncooked beans yields 5-6 cooked cups, making each cup, or serving, about 10 cents each. If the AA replaces his typical 10 ounces of meat per day with 2-3 servings of legumes, he saves $3.40 per day, or roughly $102 a month. Other vegetarian protein sources are similarly cheap: a pound of quinoa (which yields about 6 servings and is also high in protein) is roughly $1.50 per pound. Tofu and other soy products are under $2 a pound. Not only are these sources of protein cheaper, they also are much lower in unhealthy fats.

-Vegetables are also often a good source of protein. Veggies average 75 cents per pound, which is equivalent to roughly 4-5 servings. If said AA doubles his veggies and subtracts his meat, he saves $2.20 per day, or 66 dollars a month.

MONEY SAVED PER DAY: $2.20-$3.40

-it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. By cutting out that 10 ounces of meat per day, the AA saves 10 pounds of grain per day: that equals 3,650 pounds per year. . 70% of our grain in the US is used to feed farm animals: 30% of the earth’s land is used for livestock alone. 1 acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of potatoes, or 165 pounds of meat. By cutting out animal products, the AA not only saves those 3,650 pounds of grain, but also roughly an acre and a half of land every year.


-It takes upwards of 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat: if the AA eats about 11 ounces a day, that’s roughly 1,600 gallons. A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water a day. Growing a pound of wheat requires about 25 gallons. By going vegetarian for a year you save at least 400,000 gallons.

WATER SAVED PER DAY: 1,000-1,300

Livestock production is responsible for 18% of total greenhouse gases in the world. Meat protein demands 8 times as much fossil fuel consumption as soy or vegetable proteins. It takes about 15 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce one pound of beef. By cutting the average 11 ounces of meat per day, the AA prevents about 9.5 pounds of CO2 emissions. That equals about 3,450 pounds a year, or about 1.5 tons: more than what is saved yearly by switching from a sedan to a Prius.
Other facts: livestock production is responsible for 18% of total greenhouse gases in the world.

ENERGY SAVED PER DAY: 9.5 pounds of CO2

Lastly, by going vegetarian for a year, the AA saves roughly 50-100 lives. That’s 4-8 animals a month, or  .13- .25 animals a day.

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    Yeah.. And I am a vegetarian :-)
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