According to the US Department of Agriculture nearly 10 BILLION animals are raised and killed for food each year in the United States alone. While there are multiple reasons for you to start cutting factory farmed animals out of your diet, one of the most important reasons is one that is not often talked or thought about -the destructive toll that is taken on the environment from the mass production and consumption of factory farmed animals and animal products.
It’s interesting how this aspect is, for the most part, entirely overlooked. No one ever really stops to think about how much land and resources are actually needed to produce enough animals and products to cater to the excessive over-consumption of animals across the globe. Just think about how much these animals need to eat and drink, feeding 10 Billion animals in the US alone is considerably more than feeding the entire planet. Currently according to the UN, raising animals and producing the feed for them uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass- wow.
While doing research for this article I have come across some staggering statistics to support this environmental issue.
- 260 Million Acres (and counting) of US forests have been clear-cut to create land for producing feed for livestock.
- 70% Of the grain that is produced in the US is fed to farm animals
- Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have stated that the equivalent of SEVEN football fields of land is bulldozed every single minute to create more land for farming animals.
- 2,400 Gallons of water is needed to produce 1 pound of meat, only 25 gallons is needed to produce 1 pound of wheat. You would save more water by not showering for 6 months than you would by eating a pound of meat!
- In the 2004-2005 crop season all the wild animals and trees in over 2.9 million acres of the Amazon Rain forest in Brazil were destroyed in order to grow crops to produce feed for chickens and other factory farmed animals.
- Close to half of all water used in the USA goes to the production of animals for food.
- A United Nations report from 2006 states that animal agriculture is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
- The EPA reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the US come from animal waste. Atmospheric ammonia can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, ruin soil quality, damage crops, and jeopardize human health.
- Cows and sheep are responsible for 37% of the total methane (23 times as warming as CO2) generated by human activity.
I also came across this very interesting piece of information: it takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make 1 calorie from plant protein.
1) Grow massive amounts of corn, grain, and soybeans (with all required tilling, irrigation, crop dusters etc.)
2) Transport the grain and soybeans to feed manufacturers on gas-guzzling 18 wheelers.
3) Operate the feed mills
4) Transport the feed to the factory farms
5) Operate the factory farms
6) Truck the animals many miles to slaughter
7) Operate the slaughterhouse
8) Transport the meat to processing plants
9) Operate the meat processing plants
10) Transport the meat to grocery stores
11) Keep meat refrigerated or frozen in stores until sold
Keep in mind, this would be much more than 11 steps if this meat was being processed further into fast-food or processed packaged products such as hot dogs and the like.
How come this is never talked about? How come all of this is pretty much kept a secret from us? We are told to recycle and we hear about the environmental affects that we are contributing to by driving a car and using too much water. In many cities there are water-bans put in place during certain times of the day. We are encouraged to buy energy saving light bulbs and other items that are deemed ‘energy efficient.’ So why are we not encouraged to step back and at least look at the massive ecological footprint we are creating by continuing to excessively raise and slaughter animals for mass consumption? If we were really concerned about helping the environment, we might consider how much meat and other animal products we are consuming on a day-to-day basis. We could consider buying our meat from local organic farmers who raise grass-fed cattle. We may consider incorporating a lot more local fresh fruits and vegetables into our diet. We would limit our intake of fast and processed foods. We might consider participating in ‘Meat-less Mondays.’ (http://www.meatlessmonday.ca/) Maybe we would start raising our own chickens. Or maybe, we would just stop eating meat and animal products altogether. There have been many studies that suggest eating meat -especially factory farmed meat, is not even good for us and we could have a much longer, happier, healthier life by cutting out meat. The environmental and sustainable factors tell us that at the very least we must return to a more organic and local way of creating animal products if we are choosing to still have them available.
We are destroying our Mother Earth and our entire Eco-system in order to fulfill our own selfish eating habits. It is so important that we become harmonious with all life on Earth, including all vegetation and the animal kingdom once again. Just imagine a greener, cleaner more lively planet that we could inhabit if we all chose to have a more compassionate lifestyle.