melbourne vegan

Jaclyn McCosker

Blogger, social entrepreneur & freelance copywriter

Australia

7 Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism

7 Environmental Benefits of Vegetarianism

You’ve often heard that you can’t be a meat-eating environmentalist and that’s not an opinion, it’s just science. To be one you have to be lying about the other. Why?

Because animal agriculture is just the worst darned thing we humans are doing to our planet, and the only way to protect our planet is to refuse to participate in this destructive habit.

The most obvious 7 benefits for the environment when you stop eating meat and dairy are: a cooler planet, decreased pollution, slowed deforestation, more drinking water for the rest of us, living oceans, cleaner air for breathing and less need to dig up oil. At the end of the post let me know which issues I missed!

  1. A cooler planet
    We mostly eat chickens, cows, sheep and pigs. All of which need incredible amounts of food and water, emit methane and produce mountains of waste that also emits methane. Energy use included in the production of meat products includes 40% of the Earth’s food that’s grown just to be fed to the animals, and the energy use in every stage of this food production, the slaughtering, transport, and storage. Because of this, meat and dairy products use 9x more fossil fuels than plant products, and this leads to warming our planet and melting the ice caps.
  2. Decreased pollution
    One-third of the Earth’s ecoregions (kind of like a bigger version of an ecosystem) are under threat from animal agriculture. For every 1kg of beef you consume 40kg of cow manure is produced. All that waste has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is our waterways as runoff. Because the manure has high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen it depletes water of oxygen and destroys aquatic life. This results in the pollution of ground water and mass fish deaths in the oceans. Livestock's pollution of drinking water is linked to miscarriages, infant deaths, salmonella, e.coli and antibiotic resistant superbugs.
  3. Slowed deforestation
    6 million hectares of forest is cleared around the world to feed cattle every year. Meat production requires 20x more land than growing vegetables because cattle eat more plant foods than us. We have to clear forest to grow food to feed the cattle, as well as clear forests just to store the ever-growing number of cattle we breed to eat. 40% of the Earth’s surface is currently used to grow food for and house livestock we’re breeding to eat. If we stopped eating animals we’d have enough land to grow food to feed double our global population. But as it stands, 1 in 7 people are hungry right now.
  4. More drinking water for the rest of us
    A pound of beef and a pound of dairy each use 1000L of water in production. As a comparison, one pound of potatoes uses only 60L of water. Around 25% of freshwater on the planet goes to growing food to feed the animals alone. That’s just to grow the food to feed them! One look at the four-year drought in dairy country California and you’ll understand, Earth can’t sustain this.
  5. Living oceans
    Fish are expected to be extinct by 2048 if we keep eating them. And if that hasn’t scared you enough, the pollution mentioned in point #2 should. The run-off of animal waste from factory farms and fertiliser run into the oceans and create dead zones that sometimes stretch to thousands of kilometres wide, suffocating and killing sea life caught in them. It’s some real end of the world shit and we know of 400 and counting so far.
  6. Clean air for breathing
    The fossil fuels burned to produce the fertilisers for animal feed crops alone emit over 40 million metric tons of CO2 per year. That’s just for the fertilisers. Deforestation for the same cause emits over 2 billion tons every year. The media focuses on C02 when talking about climate change, but the methane produced by livestock actually has up to 100x the global warming effects of C02. Cows release up to 500L each per day. Do the math yourself, I’m tired. But methane and carbon dioxide aren’t our only problems, intensive animal farming releases hydrogen sulfide and ammonia into the air too, variously from the fertilisers used to grow such huge amounts of animal feed and their manure. Both are seriously hazardous and at times do prove fatal for workers on factory farms, as well as widespread respiratory disease for those in close proximity. Additionally, antibiotics filtered out through factory farm cooling systems also float on the air, letting us breathe them in and form resistances to antibiotics.
  7. Less need to dig up oil
    Since meat uses 9x the amount of fossil fuels than vegetables, this is a no-brainer. One-third of all fossil fuels used in America are used in the production of meat and dairy products! Every step in the production process requires energy, and growing plants just to feed animals and then later kill the animals is incredibly inefficient and wastes astronomical amounts of energy. From the fertiliser to the ploughing and harvesting, to the watering, to the feeding and ventilating, to the slaughtering and butchering, the transporting, the cooling and finally ending up in supermarkets that chug through electricity themselves. Then they make their way home into your electricity-powered home to be cooled in your fridge and cooked on your electric stove. Then later, one-third of what you’ve bought will be thrown out and you’ll go out and buy more that you don’t need. Eating meat obviously wastes fossil fuels unnecessarily.

I chose not to reference today’s post because the above information is publicly available knowledge. I did this because I encourage everyone to do their own digging.  If you copy and paste any of my statements you’ll find the studies to support it. Once you lift the lid, you can’t put it back on.

Eating meat is killing the planet, and the evidence is becoming increasingly visible.

Vegetarianism is the only way to be an environmentalist. There’s no alternate option if you care about our planet.

Learn more: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

Get started: http://www.cowspiracy.com/take-action/

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