plate with a sad face drawn on it over a bright pink background

There are small actions anyone can take every day to make a positive impact on the planet and in their life, too. One such action is the choice to eat less beef, whether that means cutting it out entirely or simply substituting beef for a different protein a few times a week. We’re here to tell you why you should consider eating less beef, both for the environment and your health. Both of us have experience cutting beef from our diets, and we hope our personal stories on making the switch will help you decide what’s best for you.

Beef is Butchering Our Planet

Reducing the amount of beef you eat can have a significant impact on the environment. Thirty percent of land not covered by ice is used for animal agriculture, most of it dedicated to raising cattle. Animal agriculture is responsible for 260 million acres of U.S. forest being cleared, and beef production alone is responsible for a whopping 80% of the Amazon Rainforest deforestation.

Overgrazing from livestock and over planting of crops to feed the animals has made livestock farming one of the leading causes of global soil erosion. Mistreating the soil like this harms natural ecosystems, and it will eventually cause dramatic changes to climate patterns if we don’t make an intentional effort to stop clearing land at such a rapid rate. 

herd of cow in grass field during daytime

It is estimated that 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock industry. The Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health reports that beef causes much higher greenhouse gas emissions than other proteins: Precisely double the emissions as pork, four times as many as chicken, and thirteen times as many as vegetable proteins. Much of these emissions come from animal waste: Livestock produce an estimated 500 million tons every year! This animal excrement releases a host of harmful substances into the atmosphere; and much of it flows freely into waterways and soaks into the soil, causing massive pollution.

Eating Less Red Meat Can Help You Live Longer

Did you know that eating less red meat (beef, pork, lamb) can actually help you live longer? A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that by replacing just one serving of red meat per day with vegetables, nuts, or whole grains, your overall risk of mortality could go down as much as 19%. 

person holding burger bun with vegetables and meat

The beef with red meats — especially processed meats like hotdogs and bacon — is that they are high in fatty acids, which cause an increase in cholesterol. This cholesterol can cause blockages, and increase your risk of heart attack. Many medical studies have proven that eating red meat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other serious health issues.

By reducing or even eliminating your consumption of red meat, you can avoid these issues and more while still maintaining a well-balanced diet.

Our Experiences Cutting Out Beef


About two years ago, I decided to cut out red meat in an attempt to help my persistent acne. While there isn’t a ton of research supporting the connection between acne and red meat, I had seen several testimonies from people on social media who swore by it. After years of trying to figure out my skin issues, I was down to try anything. 

Over time, I saw improvement in my skin overall. I confirmed that red meat was a contributing factor when I studied abroad a year later and started eating beef and pork regularly again — and my acne flared up noticeably. When I returned to the U.S., I went back to no red meat (with the exception of a few special occasions). Now, my acne is essentially gone. Of course, cutting out red meat is not the only thing that cleared up my skin, but it definitely made a difference. And after another year of substituting red meat for other proteins, I definitely notice that I feel healthier and more energetic overall.


As a freshman in high school, I began having chronic stomach pain and I could not pinpoint a cause. It was frustrating to not be able to understand what would make my stomach feel better, but I began experimenting with removing certain foods to see if my condition improved. Finally, I tried removing beef and found that it actually was causing a significant amount of my stomach pain. After I stopped eating beef, I felt much better in day-to-day life and discovered that I had a stomach condition known as Gastroparesis. This condition is one of many that can be controlled by reducing your consumption of beef.  While I can’t speak for everyone, cutting out beef made me feel healthier and happier. At this point, I don’t even notice it missing from my life!

Taking Red Meat Off The Menu

There are many delicious, healthier alternatives to eating beef. Replacing beef with chicken can cut your dietary carbon footprint in half. Plant-based alternatives such as tofu and tempeh can further help to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health. For the lowest amount of greenhouse emissions, turn to foods such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas, which contain significant amounts of protein while being extremely healthy for you and the planet. There are plenty of delicious ways to eat less beef or even meat free.

white ceramic bowl with vegetables and meat dish

Transitioning to a reduced meat or meatless diet can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think! Here are some strategies to help you decrease your red meat consumption: 

  • Start small by swapping out a few meat-based meals per week with plant-based alternatives. A popular strategy is participating in “Meatless Mondays” or choosing one day per week to not consume any meat.
  • Shop smart! Check out this article to learn how to eat plant-based on a budget, and stay tuned for more of the Planet Home team’s favorite plant-forward recipes.
  • Map out your meals with meal prepping. Preparing meals ahead of time keeps you on track with your nutrition goals and saves you more time in the long run.

As always with dietary changes, listen to your body. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about cutting out beef or meat in general. If you do choose to eat red meat, make sure to finish your plate so that all the resources that went into producing your meat didn’t go to waste. While cutting out beef completely is not for everyone, substituting it for healthier alternatives is something we can all consider trying. You might find that your body thanks you for it, and the planet will, too!