The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday May 28th

Letter: ​The oft-avoided part of sustainability


The University’s new Three Zeros Initiative aims to make UNC more sustainable by working toward water neutrality, zero waste to landfills and greenhouse gas neutrality.

While this initiative focuses specifically on waste generated on and water and energy used on campus, I believe that a major component towards sustainability has not been addressed — the food we eat.

Animal agriculture in particular is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the 13 percent resulting from all forms of transportation combined.

Meat and animal products are also extremely water intensive to produce. Feed crops must be grown for livestock, instead of using those crops to feed people. This alone accounts for 56 percent of the U.S.’s water consumption.

2,500 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of beef and 1,000 gallons of water are needed to produce one gallon of milk. To put this into perspective, the amount of water needed to produce two and a half pounds of beef is the same as the average person uses to shower for a year!

Switching to a more plant-based diet can drastically reduce an individual’s carbon and water footprint.

A person with a vegan diet produces 50 percent less carbon dioxide and uses 8 percent of the water compared to a meat eater.

So, if you want to work toward a more sustainable lifestyle, switching to a plant-based diet is a must!

Suzanne Setti

Graduate student

Materials Science

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