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What would happen if everyone stopped eating meat tomorrow? - Carolyn Beans


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Imagine if a wizard of meatless dining suddenly appeared on Earth and with one wave of a wand wiped away all meat from our shelves— along with any desire to eat it. Farm animals destined for food vanish, whisked away to another planet. What happens in the following days, years, and even millennia? Carolyn Beans explores what a vegetarian world could look like.

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Why eat less meat?

If you're wanting to dig into the weeds, the science, and data around meat and it's emission, check out this video.

If you're considering adjusting your eating to include less meat, here are few things to consider:

Firstly, it can improve overall health by reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. A plant-based diet typically contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals while being lower in saturated fats. Additionally, reducing meat consumption can alleviate the environmental strain associated with livestock farming. Meat production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution. By opting for plant-based alternatives, individuals can help mitigate climate change and preserve natural resources. Furthermore, it promotes animal welfare by lessening the demand for mass production and factory farming, advocating for more humane treatment of animals.

The challenges

Reducing meat consumption globally is challenging due to several interconnected factors. Firstly, cultural and societal norms deeply influence dietary choices, making it difficult to shift established eating habits. Additionally, meat production often plays a significant role in the economy of many countries, providing livelihoods for millions. Moreover, the powerful influence of the meat industry and its marketing campaigns perpetuates the desire for meat-centric diets.

Addressing these challenges requires both individual and collective efforts. At the individual level, people can start by incorporating more plant-based meals into their diet, gradually reducing meat intake. Education about the health benefits and environmental impact of reduced meat consumption is vital in changing mindsets. Collectively, communities can promote local, sustainable agriculture, supporting farmers who grow diverse crops. Governments can implement policies that subsidize plant-based foods, making them more accessible and affordable. Additionally, investing in research for alternative protein sources, such as lab-grown or plant-based meats, can provide viable options. Public awareness campaigns and initiatives led by NGOs can also influence societal attitudes, encouraging a global shift toward more sustainable, plant-based diets.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Carolyn Beans
  • Director Mitchelle Tamariz
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen
  • Music Salil Bhayani, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Nirana Singh, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Sazia Afrin
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Shannon Odell
  • Expert Consultant Marco Springmann

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