Too many people are blind to the environmental impact eating animals and their by-products has on the planet. With billions of animals being raised in cages, forced to eat chemically saturated GMO feed, and being poisoned with antibiotics, we have to question where all of the feces end up, where they are getting the feed, and where they are finding land to raise these animals. On the EarthSave website (earthsave.org), it is noted that one-half of the Earth's landmass is grazed by livestock – making this land unlivable for humans or wildlife. We also know that over seventy percent of all U.S. grain production is fed to livestock.
We are ignorant to the fact that our decision to eat dairy, eggs, and meat is responsible for eighty percent of all deforestation; the staggering amounts of ocean dead zones; water shortages all over the world; pollution of our air, lakes, oceans, rivers, soil, streams, and underground aquifers; more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions; global warming; climate change; and the extinction of animals, human beings, and plant species.
Please see the film, Cowspiracy, to learn more about the impact animal agriculture has on the environment.
In the United State alone, over 260 million acres of forests have been cleared to provide land for raising animals to be processed as food. Eighty percent of the Amazon rainforest that has been decimated was removed for cattle ranches, factory farms, or to grow GMO alfalfa, corn, soy and wheat to feed to livestock. If people do not stop eating meat soon, we will lose all of our forests.
These forests are responsible for moderating rainfall. When they are removed, we get less rain. This results in droughts and water shortages.
In addition to moderating rainfall, the trees also store carbon. When they are cut down, more carbon is released into the atmosphere leading to climate change and global warming.
For those who worry about carbon dioxide emissions from humans, it seems odd that they are not considering the enormous population of caged farm animals that are also emitting greenhouse gases in much larger quantities.
The methane gases, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide being emitted from the mass breeding of farm animals, the clear cutting of the forests, and the animal excrement is the number one contributor to global warming – responsible for over fifty-one percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.This is more than all of the exhaust fumes from every mode of transportation in the world combined.
By transitioning to veganism, we would save the forests, clean up the pollution, and reverse global warming.
Ocean Dead Zones
Ocean dead zones are created from excess nitrogen and phosphorus contamination that is derived from crop fertilizer, and animal excrement from factory farms. Each minute in the United States there are over five million pounds of animal feces being excreted in factory farms across the country. In addition, the majority of crops being grown using industrial monocropping methods require staggering amounts of chemical fertilizers. The combination of the pesticides and the animal feces get washed into streams and rivers, and eventually reach the oceans.
The excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and other chemicals trigger massive algae blooms. When the algae dies, it sinks to the ocean floor where bacteria living in the water decompose the dead algae, and use up the oxygen. Because of the lack of oxygen, fish and shellfish suffocate and die.
In 2008, dead zones affected more than 245,000 square kilometers of the planet's ocean, an area approximately the size of the United Kingdom. If we do not revert to organic farming, eliminate GMOs, and end the madness known as animal agriculture, all of the oceans will be dead in a short period of time.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture, there are 1.7 million dairy cows, 563,000 beef cattle, 131,000 hogs, 49.6 million broiler chickens, and 19.7 million egg-laying hens on factory farms in California. The amount of water being used to raise these animals is seriously draining our water reservoirs and aquifers. Drawing from the National Geographic water footprint calculator, for every gallon of milk produced, the process requires up to 880 gallons of water.The Midwest Dairy Association reports that the average dairy cow produces up to seven gallons of milk daily. This informs us that each dairy cow is using 6,160 gallons of water each day to produce seven gallons of milk. Not only is cow's milk linked to multiple degenerative diseases and chronic conditions in humans, but clean water is much healthier. We are essentially throwing away 6,153 gallons of water for every seven gallons of milk we consume. With 1.7 million dairy cows on factory farms in the state, at 6,160 gallons per cow, per day, we are consuming 10,472,000,000 gallons of water per day simply for milk production. This comes out to an annual water usage of 3,822,280,000,000 gallons in the state of California simply so that we can drink the milk of another species that is not even designed for us to consume. That is close to four trillion gallons of water each year being wasted to manufacture a product that is –according to nutritionfacts.org -- known to promote breast cancer,prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and obesity.
The Water Education Foundation indicates that for every pound of beef produced, it requires 2,464 gallons of water. This is also a generous number.Several other reports claim that more water is used per pound. It is also supported that for every pound of pork produced, 1,630 gallons of water are needed, and for every pound of chicken, up to 815 gallons are used. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture declares that the average 1,000 pound steer will produce around 440 pounds of retail beef cuts, and that the average 250 pound hog will produce around 144 pounds of retail pork cuts. The target weight for a boiler chicken is six pounds. Using these numbers as a base, we can now determine how much water is being used annually for the production of beef, chicken, and pork provided by factory farms in the state of California. The 563,000 beef cattle alone will produce up to 247,720,000 pounds of beef. Using 2,464 gallons of water to produce each pound, we realize that 610,382,080,000 are being used annually in California to produce factory-farmed beef. That is over 610 billion gallons of water. According to David Pimentel, Ph.D., Professor of Ecology and Agricultural Science, Cornell University, we could go two years without a shower and still not save as much water as we do by not eating one pound of beef. From the 131,000 hogs in factory farms,18,864,000 pounds of pork will be produced. At 1,630 gallons of water per pound, this will require 30,748,320,000 gallons. This is over 30 billion gallons of water. Finally, from the 49.6 million boiler chickens in factory farms, at six pounds per chicken, we are looking at 297,600,000 pounds of chicken meat produced. With each pound requiring up to 815 gallons of water, the total annual water usage comes to 242,544,000,000 gallons.
Judging by the amount of water that is being wasted to produce milk, beef, pork, and chicken for human consumption, it is safe to admit that we are mistaken in our common widespread philosophy regarding food sustainability. There is absolutely nothing sustainable about eating meat or drinking milk,and there is most definitely a dire need to end the dangerous practice of factory farming. Each year, in California alone, factory farms are using 4,705,954,400,000 gallons of water to produce milk and meat products. This is close to five trillion gallons of water.To understand this better, think about how much water it takes to produce one pound of apples, carrots, kale, potatoes, quinoa, and tomatoes. To produce one pound of each of these crops, and a total of six pounds of food, it would require a total of less than 200 gallons of water. You would also provide your body with more nourishment by eating this variety of foods than you would from consuming animal products. Can you imagine how plentiful our most precious resource –being water – would be if we simply refrained from allowing factory farms to operate? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)estimates that each household uses about 300 gallons of water per day. According to the U.S Census Bureau, there was a population total of 38,322,521 in California in 2013. This means for the entire population of California, we would need 11,499,756,300 gallons of water a day to sustain life, and 4,197,411,049,500 gallons annually.This is almost equivalent to the amount of water being used for producing milk and meat in the state alone. By placing a permanent ban on factory farming, sure, corporations may lose profits, however,we will create a surplus of water, create job opportunities on fruit and vegetable farms, and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions– animal agriculture is responsible for fifty-one percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.