Environmentalist? What about your Diet?
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. [i]
Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.
I don't think any of us need reminding we are playing a dangerous game with the way we are treating our planet. With over 7 billion of us inhabiting this spinning orb, we need to work as a whole to overcome the issues of global warming and environmental destruction if we are going to leave a place as wonderful as it is now for our children. I have faith. I think we are incredibly innovative and creative and perhaps needed catastrophes to band together and come up with solutions. But it takes the whole to create the difference needed now.
We aren't all scientists or designers. But we all eat. We all consume. And we all have a choice that can make a difference.
Part of making the choices that are the best for our planet involve KNOWING the information.
Many of my friends have become aware and some even started eating plant-based diets recently due to watching the documentary Cowspiracy. It is a wealth of information on the impact animal agriculture is having, backed with loads of scientific studies and the query; why isn't this information everywhere as it is vital!?? If you haven't I highly recommend you watch it.
The 70 billion farm animals raised each year to produce meat, dairy and eggs, need to eat. Which is where the problem arises. It takes a whole lot of water, millions of acres of fertile land to grow feed, that is often thousands of kilometers away and requires energy to produce and transport. Especially when they are raised in factory farms, which is unfortaunaltty the way it is for over 2/3rds of animals in agriculture. Grazing occupies 26% of the land on Earth, while animal-feed crop production takes up about 1/3 of all land. While food production is a necessity, the proportion of agricultural land dedicated to growing animal food obviously cannot be sustained.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
Oxford Journals. "Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues
Water is needed for the crops and to raise the animals and clean their waste once they are taken to slaughter. Fresh water supplies are dwindling around the world. Aquifers, dams and rivers all under pressure. You just need to look at the dismal Murry Darling problems to see its negative effect close to home. But around the world there are 70 major rivers close to maximum extraction levels and according to the UN, agriculture is almost entirely to blame for this. On top of using such a large amount of the water we have to raise the food, the other "side-effect" of raising animals for food is the major contribution it has on water pollution.
This comes from the excessive amount of waste that 70 billion animals produce. Imagine! And there is no septic system for their sh*t. Plus the urine, the wash and the chemicals used. Millions and millions of litres runs and overflows into surrounding land, rivers and oceans. They feed algae blooms and suffocate marine life in neighbouring water ways. To put it in perspective, every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US according the the Environmental Protection Agency. And that is just the US.
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
World Bank. "Causes of Deforestation of theBrazilian Amazon”
So what to do with all this pretty depressing information. No, don't bang your head against the wall in despair. Do what you can with what you have, and what thousands of people are choosing to do each day now and the number is growing. You can help the fight by cutting down on your consumption of meat and animal products, or even better go plant-based. Join the "Meat Free Monday" bandwagon, or test out "Meat Free Week" or you can do what many of my friends do and choose 2 meals a week you will eat meat instead of 21. It is your life, so you can gauge what works for you. But please consider it is OUR planet and your children's future is going to depend on us all making compassionate and environmentally friendly choices. You can use solar power, drive electric cars, recycle, compost but by far the most impact you can have personally on the environment is with the choices of what you eat and don't eat.
A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food. [xx]
Oil, water: “Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003.