The Monumental Impact of the Meat Industry

Written by Julia Hoffman, ESLLC 2016-2017

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Hey guys! I figured many people are very passionate about saving the planet, and for good reason! The Earth is a pretty rad place to live if I do say so myself, and I believe we should do everything in our power to protect her! Now before I dive into this issue I just wanted to start off by saying this is in no way, shape, or form me trying to force my beliefs on anybody! I am very aware of how hard it is to give up eating meat and I do not expect everyone who reads this to do so. I am just trying to express some concerns I have and shed some light on places that maybe would have remained in the dark for a few of you guys! If anyone ever wants to talk to me about vegetarianism/ veganism I would love love love to chat! If you find this offensive.. I’m sorry.. With all that being said, I want to talk a little bit about the meat/dairy industry’s role in resource consumption, deforestation, and climate change.

As many of us I’m sure are well aware, we are running out of fresh water. There are many campaigns about taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, but there never seems to be any mention of exactly how much water it takes to provide meat for the world to consume. According to the World Watch Report, 30% of the world’s water consumption goes towards animal agriculture. It is estimated that over 34 TRILLION gallons of water are used every single year to put meat on everybody’s plates. In fact, one quarter pounder at McDonalds is the equivalent of almost 660 gallons of water which is also equivalent to two months worth of showers! As for one gallon of milk: almost 1,000 gallons of water. So although it is important to take shorter showers, if everyone were to stop eating meat we could really end up saving huge sums of water and that could end up helping people that aren’t getting enough to drink. Another very obvious thing we need to survive is oxygen, and without our rainforests we might be in some trouble.

Over 91% of the deforestation taking place in the Brazilian rainforest is directly caused by the industry of animal agriculture. On average, an acre of our rainforests is destroyed every second to make room for the animals that we eat to graze. While there are many problems that accompany deforestation, such as destroying habitats for animals and even forcing some species into exaction, there is also another problem that directly affects us humans. Rainforests are considered to be the lungs of the Earth. They breathe in CO2 that we release every day into the atmosphere and the produce the life giving air that we need. Now as more and more trees are cut down, the process of filtering our air becomes less and less efficient. So as we continuously increase our supply of pollution into the air and continuously decrease the ability to filter it out, we start running into some serious problems. One of them being bum bum bummm… climate change.

Global warming is a massive issue that we are facing, and animal agriculture is a massive component in the output of greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere. The culprits: methane and nitrous oxide. Cow farts/burps add methane to the atmosphere at an alarmingly rapid rate. The thing about methane is that its greenhouse effect is almost 86x stronger than the effect of CO2 (which seems to be our main concern). Most environmental groups advise people to bike to work so that their cars are not emitting CO2 however, the nitrous oxide released from cow “excrement” is roughly 296x more effective at trapping in heat from the sun than CO2. Animal agriculture is responsible for 65% of the output of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. That is because cows produce 130x more waste than humans and all of that waste goes untreated. The nitrogen pollutes rivers and is the leading cause of ocean “dead zones” (one zone can stretch over 95,000 square miles of ocean that is void of all life!). The nitrogen oxide also ends up in our atmosphere and is mixed in with CO2, methane, and other green house gases. Record levels of green house gasses have not been seen in Earth’s history since the Permian extinction 251 million years ago: the worst of Earth’s 5 mass extinctions! Almost all life on Earth went extinct and it took over a million years for life to recover. We could very well be facing the next mass extinction and the worst part: it’s going to be our fault.

So with everyday that you can forgo eating meat you are saving water, trees, animals, and you are refusing to participate in a huge aspect of climate change which could be ultimately helping to save the world! Let’s face it; vegans are like super heroes! We all have to work together if we want to make this world a safe and beautiful place for everyone to live for generations to come. It starts with the individuals! It starts with you and me!


Sources:

Cowspiricy (watch it!!!!)

Cosmos  (watch this also!!)

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