The animal agriculture industry is responsible for an estimated 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. A significant portion of environmental degradation from animal agriculture can be attributed to factory farms, where waste—whether it is excrement, antibiotics, or fertilizer—is discharged at higher volumes.
The impacts of climate change will drastically decrease the productivity of our food system, ultimately affecting human health, animal welfare, and the environment. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide the federal government with a unique opportunity to help reduce the impacts of climate change. The USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are reviewing the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report, which endorses reducing meat consumption and increasing consumption of plant-based foods.
If the USDA and HHS implement the report’s findings and recommendations, programs and institutions that follow the guidelines—such as school lunch programs and the military—and individuals who adjust their diets in accordance with the recommendations could help reduce the impacts of climate change and cruel factory farming practices.