May 17, 2016

The One Human Created Industry Injuring our Planet the Most & Why it’s being Ignored.

Flickr/Marc Dalmulder

I didn’t expect to scream into a box of tissues when I snuggled up with my boyfriend for a casual documentary viewing of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

The film possess a deceiving, elusive title, that doesn’t truly illustrate its main shock-invoking sentiments.

Five minutes in I audibly, aggressively yelled at the screen: what the f*ck?

Here I was, attempting to recycle, using a mason jar instead of plastic water bottles, ignoring that fester of guilt when I drove my car long distances, when, in actuality, if I wanted to save the planet, I should have avoided eating a hamburger that day.

Animal Agriculture (the raising of animals for human food) is the main cause of climate change, of rain forest destruction, water consumption, and (but not limited to) water pollution.

That’s meat and dairy production being the main cause of global warming.

I like to think I take things with a grain of salt, so even though Kip Anderson seemed transparent with his research, I had to do some digging myself. I found a little that said a lot.

Animal Agriculture emits the most greenhouse gases (gases in the atmosphere that trap in heat, i.e. global warming).

As stated in a lengthy scientific report by Robert Goodland—former environmental adviser to the World Bank—domesticated animals cause 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 51 percent of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. 51 percent.

“If this argument is right,” states Goodland, “it implies that replacing livestock products with better alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change.”

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the number one greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, and ironically, carbon dioxide is removed from the air by plants—trees in rain forests or the plants destroyed by providing fields for cows might have been useful.

Most often when we hear animal agriculture we think animal cruelty—big mean men hurt cute little cow, right? Yes, the cruelty exists, but there is also a massive use of water and land to consider. Not to mention cow farts (toots, not poops) emit more methane gas than the burning of fossil fuels, leaks from oil and gas refining and drilling.

It turns out this whole time I was mocking prestigious, almost pious vegans, they were saving the f*cking planet. Purrrr-ty cool. Oh, and my apologies vegans.

Some more facts:

Livestock is responsible for 65 percent of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.

Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.

Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame.

Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.

Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.

Californians use 1500 gallons of water per person per day. Close to Half is associated with meat and dairy products.

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk

found at

During my research I thought most articles and scientific information were disseminated in the U.K.

Why the hell aren’t more people freaking the f*ck out over this?

But, then the reason this hasn’t been largely publicized hit me; in Western society, challenging someone’s life style would be met with bad press. (It would also mean bad news for the 4, yes, only 4, mass meat-packing corporations.)

Can you imagine the outcry? Christmas is ruined; we have no Christmas beast. What is Thanksgiving without Turkey or 4th of July without hamburger?

Can you see how much food has been imprinted in our holidays, not to mention our lifestyle?

Impress your date by purchasing that oh-so-yummy filet, medium rare.

In 2013, (this is 3 years ago) the fast food industry in the United States (alone) generated 191 billion dollars.

In 2013, there were more than 232 thousand fast food establishments in the U.S., employing over 3.5 million people.

That’s a lot of people: not including, your butcher, employees at full-service restaurants that customize in meat entries, milk men (do those still exist?), or cheese and wine restaurants. What the hell would we put on our pizza? Think of the pizza restaurants!

The more you think about it, the more it makes sense that this information would get swept under the rug or ignored entirely; our way of life is put into question.

I thought of my guy friends in high-school who would be “manly” and eat a steak. Eat meat for protein (there is more protein in quinoa than chicken. Protein is found in broccoli, spinach, granola—Google it.)

I’m not saying never eat meat.

I’m asking: do we need it in this incredible surplus?

Meat and dairy should be treated as a luxury, not a necessity.

So what can we do?

Start making alternatives, where you can, now.

I used to love meat, sour cream (well, still guilty), queso, etc. But now I indulge in sweet potatoes with honey, or beets in a quinoa salad. Even avocado, as is, with a spoon; so good!

Do we need to completely remove meat and cheese from our diets forever? Possibly not, but we do need to cut back—If your girlfriend worked all night to make a meat lasagna, eat the f*cking lasagna.

Maybe, for Thanksgiving, you eat corn pudding sans turkey. Maybe, you eat steak on special occasions. Maybe you do more research on your own.

Maybe you step out of your comfort zone and try eating at that weird vegan restaurant down the street—because, I did and holy-sh*t, they know what to put together.

If you want to make a difference for the Earth, watching what food you purchase and put in your mouth is the ultimate thing you can do.

It’s the easiest thing you can do.

Why not try it?

Each person who switches to a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land and 20 LBS CO2 equivalent per day~Cowspiracy (Which now has a new segment from Leonardo DiCaprio, I mean, come on.).


Author: Elizabeth Brumfield

Editor: Erin Lawson

Photo: Flickr/Mark Dalmulder

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