Animal Liberation Page
Why Vegetarian

For The Environment

The production of meat is a wasteful process and costly for the environment. Along with the suffering inflicted upon the animals, the earth is also suffering and the degradation of land caused by intensive farming is widespread and irrepairable.

The farming of beef cattle is a good example. There are two main methods of farming beef-the traditional grazing method and the feedlot method which is becoming more popular now and used almost exclusively in the U.S. Both methods are as damaging as each other. After heavy grazing, a usually fertile area will become barren, and being hard-hoofed animals, cows cause a great deal of soil erosion.

More than 25% of Central American forests have been cut down over the last 30 years so that cattle can graze where majestic forests once stood. In the Amazon forest, more than 40 million hectares have already been cleared for this very purpose. The cattle ranchers move on once the soil has lost its fertility, but the forests will never return.

The feedlot practice is a highly wasteful way to produce food as it takes 790 kilograms of plant protein to produce just 50 kilograms of meat protein. Large areas of high quality soil is being used to produce grains and soybeans to feed cattle, pigs and chickens. The chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides used to grow these crops are also contributing to the poisoning of the environment.

In affluent nations, the average citizen is responsible for consuming one tonne of grain a year, not because they eat lots of bread and rice, but through the uneconomical conversion of grains into meat. This compared to a poorer nation, such as India, for example, where the figure is less than a 1/4 tonne of grain per capita, seems like an extravagant way of nourishing ourselves. The inefficiency of meat farming is working against solving the world's hunger problem. During the famine in Ethopia, crops suitable for human consumption were exported from the U.S. to first world countries for animal feed. (ed. some were also dumped directly into the sea to keep prices artifically high).

As well as deforestation and threatening wildlife habitats, cattle farming contributed to atmospheric warming (greenhouse effect) in other ways. Cows excrete large amounts of methane, the most potent of all greenhouse gases. 20% of all methane released into the atmosphere is said to be produced by cattle. When we consider that the weight of the world's 1.28 billion cattle is greater tham the entire human population, there really is cause for concern.

Resources that don't usually come to mind when we think of meat production are also used uneconomically, such as water. To produce 500g of meat protein requires as much as 15 times the amount of water needed to produce that same amount of plant food. The water used to produce 200g of meat equals the household water consumption of an average family for a whole year.

The ball is in our court (or on our plates). If people in developed countries continue to satisfy their huge appetite for meat and ignore the harmful side effects, the meat industry will continue with its production. Anyone who really cares about the environment will re-consider what they are consuming and take steps to be as responsible caretakers of this planet as they possibly can.

by Irene

Cameron Green
Last Updated - Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:04:32 -0600