Monday, February 12, 2007

Climate change and the meat industry

With the exception of a handful of catfish I've been a vegetarian since 1989 but it's never been a focus of my activism. I think factory farming is a terrible thing for animals and the environment. I also think a meat centered diet is not healthy for humans. That's my reasoning and it still stands. However, in the future I think I'm likely to be a bit more vocal about the climate change/energy conservation benefits of a vegetarian diet or at least a diet free of feed-farmed cows, pigs, and chickens. Of course most meat eaters I know act as though meat is an absolute requirement for their continued survival and would throw themselves on on the floor crying at the thought of giving up meat. It's not a survival thing, it's a desire thing. They simply want to eat meat because it tastes good to them which is to say, it is a luxury not a need. I'll post this anyway but generally these kinds of people just don't care regardless of what information is placed in front of them. What they want is what is most important. The folks at Celsias have an excellent post regarding the meat industry and the environmental consequences:
This might hurt a little, but it’s for your own good. Put something between your teeth, bite hard, and watch (please, not for children - parental discretion advised):

What the Meat Industry Doesn’t Want you to See

Okay, still with me? Sorry to do that to you - but, hey, you’d rather know wouldn’t you?

Why am I sharing this? Aside from the horrific acts of cruelty, we need to realise the environment just can’t take this abuse any more (either). If you didn’t catch the recent release of the United Nation’s ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’ report on the effect of our diet on the environment, please take a look. This information is, as mentioned, coming from the United Nations - not an animal rights lobby, or a sandal-wearing band of hippies.

A few concise facts from GoVeg.com:
Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of pasta and toss them in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food? How about leveling 55 square feet of rain forest for a single meal or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain? Of course you wouldn’t. But if you’re eating chicken, fish, turkey, pork, or beef, that’s what you’re doing—wasting resources and destroying our environment.

Animals raised for food expend the vast majority of the calories that they are fed simply existing, just as we do. We feed more than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow to farmed animals, and almost all of those calories go into simply keeping the animals alive, not making them grow. Only a small fraction of the calories consumed by farmed animals are actually converted into the meat that people eat.

Growing all the crops to feed farmed animals requires massive amounts of water and land—in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food. Our taste for meat is also taking a toll on our supply of fuel and other nonrenewable resources—about one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the farmed animal industry.

Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States, and since factory farms don’t have sewage treatment systems as our cities and towns do, this concentrated slop ends up polluting our water, destroying our topsoil, and contaminating our air. And meat-eaters are responsible for the production of 100 percent of this waste—about 86,000 pounds per second! Give up animal products, and you’ll be responsible for none of it.

Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it’s the overuse of resources, unchecked water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. The most important step you can take to save the planet is to go vegetarian. - GoVeg.com

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment