There are many reasons not to eat meat—compassion for the animals, health concerns related to how much our meat contains hormones and antibiotics—but here’s one more: climate change!
To produce one ton of grain to feed cattle, 1,000 tons of water are required.
In the USA, 60 percent of grain is fed to animals bred for slaughter.
This is not sustainable.
Think about what would happen if 30 percent of that grain were instead given instead to the poor and hungry children of Africa and Asia and elsewhere!
Furthermore, nitrate pollution of well water comes from the livestock industry. The feedlots are cauldrons of blood, feces, antibiotics, and grain.
These USA feedlots produce more than 300 million tons of manure a year.
But cattle are not the only great poopers. The average pig produces four times more manure than a human being. In other words, 5,000 swine will produce as much shit as a city of 20,000 people—except swine have no sewage system. Their solid, liquid, and gaseous waste damages land, water, and our atmosphere. (1)
In short, the livestock industry contributes more to climate change than driving cars! (2)
But then there are the human meat eaters. In the USA over the course of a year, meat eaters produce more than 1.5 tons of CO2 than do vegetarians. Compared to the emissions of the US military, this is not much, but still we’re talking tons!
Thinking of switching just eating fish? That’s not great either. Current rates of global industrial overfishing mean that there will be no fish left to fish by 2048. And aquaculture fish farms are heir to their own pollution.
So if you’ve been sitting on the fence and wondering whether to try a vegetarian diet, and if you really care about the environment and the very real climate crisis, get off the fence on the veggie-garden side!
1. Stuffed and Starved / rajpatel.org
2. Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel, P.304
Author: Linda Lewis
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Jersey at Flickr