I enjoy living with that much less guilt in my life--I feel bad enough as it is about how much I like my car (I do bike/ttc/walk/run whenever I can, but those times I do drive I get a guilty little happy feeling. *sigh*) I don't like the amount of recycling and garbage I put out (I do try to cut down, again, but some things are just inherent. They don't sell soy milk in refillable jugs in my area...) At least this way I know that what I eat is having a huge impact in many different ways:
-Animal suffering. Every bit of meat, dairy, or egg I don't eat helps to diminish animal suffering in the world. Oh sure, the meat that's already been slaughtered and is on the shelves doesn't feel any better blablabla.. but the less demand there is in the industry, the less production, that many less animals that are bred, tortured from birth, and eventually slaughtered either as garbage or "food".
-The ENVIRONMENT! It takes 35 Kcal of energy to make 1 Kcal of meat! That means in a 3oz serving of beef (average 450 Kcal--depending on what cut) I'm really using 15750 Kcal of energy--that's almost half a gallon of gassoline! Not to mention the amount of water needed to raise 2lbs of beef is enough to take a 15 min shower every day for an entire year... not to mention cows alone produce 20% of the methane we emit into the atmosphere. (Methane is about 20 times as bad as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas!) It has been shown time and time again cows produce significantly more greenhouse gasses in methane alone than cars per annum!!! And that's NOT including the extreme amounts of waste (both biological and water waste), the fuel of THEIR transport to and from the slaughter house, etcetera.
For comparison, it takes about 3 Kcal of energy to make 1 Kcal of plant. Plants do need to be watered as well, but they don't need a fraction as much as cows do (cows need the water needed to water their food, plus water for themselves, plus need to be washed and processed much more.) Plants have a higher turnover, plants don't suffer (in any way us humans can understand at least), plants don't emit methane... The only real issue with plants is the nitrogen fertilizers, but its not like the food cows eat aren't fertilized the exact same way!!!
To find sources for all my facts, please just google it--I really feel that there's a lot more to know than what any one site or article can say on any one of these facts. Also, pick up any (ANY) green book (yesterday I went through the entire 'green' section at my bookstore--that was a lot of books.. 2 or 3 dozen ish?) and they ALL have at least a few pages on how cutting down on meat, even if its only going vegetarian once per week, is more of an impact than anything else you could do alone.
Help us save our earth, please? <3