“If we want to fight global warming through the food we buy, then one thing’s clear: We have to drastically reduce the meat we consume,” -Tara Garnett of London’s Food Climate Research Network.
According to an article in Audubon Magazine, livestock production is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gases. These gases are emitted when we burn fossil fuels. Those who eat less meat can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 250 gallons less per year (vegans), or 160 gallons less (vegetarians).
All of the energy used towards the production of chickens, cows and other livestock has the potential to serve dozens of beneficial purposes. It can be as simple as cutting down meat intake to once or twice a week.
Mike Tidwell, the author of the article, discusses buying local and organic, as well. While these practices are good in theory and have the potential to be less harmful, this is not always the case.
Cows and sheep- ruminants- emit harmful gases during their natural digestive process: methane and nitrous oxide. Organic or not, animals continue to emit these gases.
Ironically enough, buying chicken organically can be more harmful than purchasing conventionally-raised chicken. Tidwell's article cites data released in 2007 by Adrian Williams of Cranfield University in England:
"...when all factors are considered, organic, free-range chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming than conventionally raised broiler birds. That’s because “sustainable” chickens take longer to raise, and eat more feed. Worse, organic eggs have a 14 percent higher impact on the climate than eggs from caged chickens."