Environmental issues can take on both personal and global significance. Statistics and raw data allow some individuals to keep a safe distance from anything too disturbing. But when environmental issues hit close to home, people suffer from eco-anxiety, a condition which the American Psychological Association identified back in 2011,

To counteract the rise of eco-anxiety, and to resolve at least some of the planetary problems, there’s one thing every single American can do. It’s a step anyone can take, and it may seem like a selfish motive in the face of climate change. Fortunately, it’s a solution that provides relief not only to emotional distress but also to the well-being of the planet.

Environmental nutrition serves both people and the planet

Researcher, Helen Harwatt, specializes in environmental nutrition.

This isn’t a field of study focused primarily on optimal diets for humans. Instead, Harwatt and fellow researchers are looking for ways in which human diets can support a sustainable lifestyle.

A joint effort from Loma Linda University, Oregon State University, and Bard College have discovered an incredibly simple dietary adjustment that’s not only affordable but easy to implement. Almost too easy, in fact.

These researchers have estimated that if every American reached for beans instead of beef at their local grocery stores, the U.S. could potentially meet Obama’s gas emission goals. That might sound like a gassy solution. But compared to the methane produced by American cattle, it’s a small comparison.

Can higher bean consumption lower methane levels?

For meat lovers, this could be a tragic proposal, but to mitigate the blow, consider that this is the only lifestyle change necessary.

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In fact, Harwatt and her team of researchers claim that this simple dietary substitution can have a greater impact on the plant than if you switch cars, cut back on driving, and lower your water and electricity consumption.

It may be hard to imagine how cow farts can have such a negative effect on global warming. However, a single cow is believed to emit 70 to 120 kilograms of methane each year, and if you multiply that figure by the number of cattle in the U.S., it doesn’t take long to reach a high sum. To compound this stinky math problem, it’s important to remember that methane is also 23 times more negative for the climate than carbon dioxide.

Harwatt’s suggestion holds great promise, considering that in just three years, Americans can influence greenhouse gas emissions with one dietary change. The question is, will they?