Crunch Numbers, Not Dead Animals, and See How Many Lives You Can Save

The Vegetarian Calculator shows the positive environmental and ethical impact created by one simple choice.

(Photo: Lise Gagne/Getty Images)

Mar 10, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

Wearable tech products like the Fitbit and Nike Fuel Band—and the new Apple watch—allow casual joggers and hardcore crossfitters alike to track every metric from their workout. Fitness aficionados can now calculate their average heart rate, total power output, and calories burned over a long period of time and see all the health benefits in one digital display.

What if there were a similar device that measured the environmental benefits you created by ordering a quinoa burger instead of its meaty counterpart—or every time you opted for the crudité over the shrimp cocktail? Meet the Vegetarian Calculator.

The new website allows users to simply enter the amount of time it’s been since you’ve last eaten meat, and the calculator will show how many animals’ lives have been saved, how many pounds of meat were prevented from consumption, and the volume of carbon dioxide that won’t be entering the atmosphere.

If you’ve only been a vegetarian for a day, you’ve still saved one animal’s life, per the calculator, prevented about a pound of flesh from being consumed, and spared the Earth from four additional pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Extrapolate those numbers over 10 years of vegetarianism, however, and the calculator shows a far more dramatic impact: 2,020 animals’ lives spared, 1,950 pounds of meat not consumed, and 16,090 pounds of carbon dioxide kept from entering the atmosphere.

The data is based on USDA statistics for the average amount of meat consumed per capita. Obviously, the calculator neglects some key variables—a hardcore carnivore is going to have a greater impact by stopping incessant meat eating than a more naturally veggie-inclined diner, for example—but it seems like the website would rather focus on the bigger picture than mince numbers.

The website points out that raising livestock produces more carbon emissions than the entire automobile industry and is second only to industrial pollution in contributing to global warming.

As long as you have an iPhone and a few rubber bands, you can even wear the Vegetarian Calculator on your wrist—just like a Fitbit.