Even if you’re not concerned about animal welfare or the potential health benefits of a vegetarian diet, there is yet another reason to reconsider your animal product consumption – the environmental impact.
Several great articles followed a lengthy UN report issued late last year that said raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The facts and figures surrounding this topic are astounding. Here are a few that I’ve pulled out of my recent readings:
- A 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle.
- More than 1/3 of all fossil fuels are used in animal production.
- Farmed animals are fed more than 70 percent of the corn, wheat, and other grains grown in the U.S.
- Because of deforestation to create grazing land, each vegetarian saves an acre of trees per year.
- Producing a single hamburger patty uses enough fuel to drive 20 miles.
- The livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher amount than the transportation sector.
- Reducing meat production by just 10 percent in the U.S. would free enough grain to feed 60 million people.
- You could spend more than $20,000 on a Prius and still emit 50 percent more carbon dioxide than you would if you just gave up eating meat and other animal products.
- Waste from animal production pollutes American waterways more than all other industrial sources combined.
- Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year.
- You’d save more water by not eating a pound of beef than not showering for a year.
- Chickens raised for KFC and other companies are fed crops that are grown in the Amazon rain forest.
- More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals.
- Almost half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the U.S. are used to raise animals for food.
With the recent media focus on “going green”, I find it somewhat surprising that we’re not hearing more about this. It’s all over the news in other countries, and in the UK official government sources have encouraged people to examine their meat consumption and eat and drink in a greener way. So why is this a non-issue in the US to the point that even Al Gore does not mention it??
Recent research has shown that a majority of people are concerned about climate change and want to do something to feel like they’re a part of the solution, but the recommendations our government and media gives to the average consumer are limited. In addition to driving a hybrid, switching to energy efficient appliances, or turning off lights, we need to better communicate the message that reducing your animal product consumption is something you can do every day that will have a huge impact on the environment and global warming.
Want to make a transition to eating less meat? Check out One Bite at a Time: A Beginner’s Guide to Conscious Eating, participate in Meatless Monday, get a starter pack from Vegan Outreach, find a vegetarian friendly restaurant, or do whatever it takes to stop global warming one bite at a time.