Now before you skip over this post- don’t worry. I am not by any means about to preach to you a vegan lifestyle. If you have the will-strength and made the conscious decision to be vegan, I applaud you! The planet could definitely benefit from an increase in people such as yourself. I however, like millions of other Americans, am an avid meat-eater. I always know where the best burgers are and am more than happy to suggest them for a night out. While I could continue this diet the rest of my life and be perfectly happy, I’ve recently been exposed to the reality of my lifestyle choices, causing me to reduce my consumption of beef in particular. There are hundreds of reasons for cutting beef out of your diet, but I could never fit them all in one post. Keep reading to learn the top ten facts that convinced me to make a change.
10 Ways Animal Agriculture Affects the Earth
- A total of 52% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by livestock and their by products- that’s 32,000 million tons of CO2!
- More specifically, 65% of human-related emissions of nitrous oxide is caused by livestock production. For reference, N2O has 296 times the global warning potential of CO2 and stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
- It takes 12 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef. Multiply this number by the average yield of 470 pounds from a given cow at slaughter and you’re left with 5,880 pounds of grain required to feed a single cattle. With the combination of water usage in feed production, drinking water, as well as water used throughout the industrial process of packaging beef, its no surprise that…
- A whopping 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef. That’s the equivalent of taking at 19.8 hour shower! Now of course you’ll think to yourself “Well I would never take such a long shower that’s just silly.” So why can’t we use this same type of thinking in regards to our food? If there are other sources that would fill us just the same, why do we need so much beef?
- Livestock and it’s feed accounts for 1/3 of all ice-free land. If the cattle industry continues to grow (like it’s projected to do) it would require even MORE land. Are you prepared to give up your home just so you can keep eating beef every night?
- While your home may not be threatened just yet, the rainforests are. Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of rainforest destruction.
- Animals produce 3.475 trillion pounds of manure annually. That’s enough waste to cover San Francisco, New York City, Tokyo, the list goes on. But of course the waste doesn’t just sit there. It runs off into our lakes and oceans. This fuels a process known as nitrification, in which excess nitrates create dead-zones in water ways.
- Over 500 of these nitrogen flooded dead-zones have been created in our seas. These dead-zones in lakes, rivers, and oceans both disrupt habitats and potential water sources that we desperately needed as we drain our current resources. But even more than that, due to this pollution…
- We could see fish-less oceans by the year 2048. Think about that. Not only would the fishing industry completely crumble, but so would sectors such as aquatic tourism. Last year I was given the opportunity to kayak among dolphins. It was a breath-taking experience that left me completely in awe. Imagine if those animals were just gone. The lack of fish would disrupt the entire food chain, and your grandchildren could be learning about fish, whales, and dolphins in the same way they learn about dinosaurs.
- Now by this point I’m sure you’re wondering: If the beef industry is so bad? Why is nobody talking about it? Well they’re trying! The animal industry has been effecting the environment and exploiting farmers for years. However, many who attempt to speak up are often met with serious repercussions. In many cases, financially crippling lawsuits are a risk (watch Food, Inc. for more details). In other cases, they may be risking their life. 1,110 activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years alone.
I don’t expect any of you to immediately make a switch in your diets (I’m hardly the best example), but I do encourage you to take the time to place it in perspective. Estimate the impact of your beef consumption in the average week. I’m willing to bet you’ll be quite shocked at some of the numbers you come up with. If you liked this post and want to learn more, I encourage you to follow up by reading from the links below. If documentaries are more your style, Cowspiracy is highly entertaining and informative. Plus, it’s on Netflix!! If you’re anything like me, you’ll be watching suggested docs for the next month (a tragedy to my younger brothers who would much rather be watching Teen Titans).
My lovely featured image for today’s post was taken at the Butcher & Bee in Charleston, SC. Their menu is almost entirely vegetarian, with the exception of my amazing salmon toast. Though a little pricey, they had a ton of fun options for a quick brunch with a friend. Of course my favorite part though was all the bee memorabilia 😉
Thanks for reading!
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