Your Plate, Your Planet

What you put on your plate really affects our planet! Learn more on our fact sheet. Food production is very energy-intensive. Meat, fish, dairy, and egg production use the most energy, causing more greenhouse gas production than plant foods. Due to the way they digest grains, cattle emit methane, a gas much more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of causing global warming.

Approximately half of the land in the continental United States is used for livestock production - either for grazing or for raising grain and soybeans as feed. Wild animals often lose habitat through deforestation to make way for cattle ranches. Since the nineteenth century, cattle ranchers in Western states have taken land from Native Americans, a practice that continues to this day. Due to the decimation of juniper and pinon forests, the Paiute and Shoshone peoples lose their sources of pine nuts, a traditional food that plays an important role in their cultures. In addition, animals such as birds, deer, and mountain lions lose their habitat.

Most factory farms and slaughterhouses are located in rural areas, frequently African American, Native American, or Latino neighborhoods. Wastewater from these facilities contains animal remains, fecal matter, and pollutants such as nitrates, phosphorous, and ammonia. In addition to contaminating local drinking water, the stench from lagoons – holding ponds for this wastewater – is so extreme that people living near them cannot open their windows or spend time outside. This population frequently suffers from asthma, headaches, and tension. Workers – who are typically people of color or immigrants – are exposed to these toxins on the job.

Industrial fishing leads to massive amounts of bycatch – non-target animals that are also killed by trawlers. This includes endangered animals, such as sea turtles, whales, and birds. Marine animals can also become entangled in fishnets, leading to severe injury or death. In fact, injuries from fishnets are a significant hazard to the Atlantic right whale, which has a population of only about 400 individuals and may be facing extinction.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, eating a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do to lower your carbon footprint. At the same time, you can dramatically decrease your water usage and protect wildlife habitat.

The mission of the Plant-based Planet Team is to raise awareness of the impact animal agriculture has on the Earth. We encourage people to reduce or eliminate animal food consumption by eating a plant-based diet. Our projects include developing a cooking show, giving talks in community centers, hosting potluck dinners, and arranging lectures. 

If you would like to attend one of our monthly meetings or other events, please check the Events Calendar for an updated listing. Planning your own event? See our list of plant-based options in the Boston area.

New Feature! Plant-based Planet Table. In this new monthly feature, we will share plant-based recipes to help you minimize your carbon footprint - while eating healthy, delicious food.

Plant-based Planet Table

View the Plant-based Planet YouTube channel

For more information, contact Sara Sezun, Chair, at

For the perspective of Sierra Club national, see Food and Our Climate by Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director