Why going meatless saves the planet
Going vegetarian is the easiest and quickest way to lower your carbon footprint, reduce pollution, and save energy and water. That’s because meat production requires staggering amounts of land, water, and energy compared to plant foods. Let’s explore that now.
There are all sorts of statistics about this, clearly, animal based food ‘dilute’ the sustaining capacity of the plant based food used to cultivate it. Thanks to this site for the following figures and words.
Energy Use & Global Warming
The warning about meat and the environment isn’t coming from crazed hippies. It’s coming from people like the head of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who has openly identified eating less meat as an important step in combating climate change. Why? Because cows are more damaging than cars. As he says:
“Please eat less meat — meat is a very carbon intensive commodity.
“In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.” (more…)
Livestock production requires enormous amounts of energy. We put far more energy into animals per unit of food than we do for any plant crop. The main reason is that cattle consume 16 times more grain than they produce as meat,(293) so right there we have 16 times as much energy just to grow those crops, just so we can waste them on livestock.
But the energy use doesn’t end there. The livestock themselves take energy to process beyond the energy that goes into their feed. And then there’s refrigeration, including during transport, necessary for meat but not for grains and beans. And then there’s the transportation itself.
Wasting energy isn’t problematic just because there’s less and less of it to go around, (We’ve already used more than half the oil that exists on the planet.) it’s also a problem because burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming. And raising animals for food is the driving force. As the U.K.’s Independent put it:
“Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.”
That figure comes from no less authority than the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (source)
TIME Magazine agrees, saying, “It’s true that giving up that average 176 lb. of meat a year is one of the greenest lifestyle changes you can make as an individual.”
You’ve probably heard about reducing energy use by buying local. But the energy savings there pales compared to going veggie. As the Organic Consumers put it, “It’s how food is produced, not how far it is transported, that matters most for global warming, according to new research published in ES&T.” The authors of that study say, “Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products…achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.” (Carnegie-Mellon University) Brighter Planet agrees that ditching meat is far more important than buying local.
Raising animals for food requires lots more land than growing crops. That’s because animals eat a lot more food than they provide as meat. It takes 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef. That’s 94% more land. And 94% more pesticides. All told, livestock eat 70% of all the grain we produce. They’re food factories in reverse.
Grass-fed beef isn’t a solution, because that requires even more land per unit of meat. And since the amount of land we have is fixed, what that really means is less meat. By going grass-fed, we’d have less meat, but still use just as much land. Animals are grain-fed because we can feed more animals that way.
And make no mistake, there are a lot of them. More chickens are killed in the U.S. every year than there are people in the world (7.6 billion chickens vs. 6 billion people).
There are more than one billion head of cattle on the planet today, which weigh twice as much as the human population.
Thinking that all those cattle can easily be grass-fed is just a fantasy.
“It seems that Charlotte was clearly correct to point to the extra resources available, ‘unwasted’, in the vegetarian scenario.”
The point is that going meatless requires far, far less land and other resources than our normal eating habits do.
The fact that we put far more grain into livestock than they return as meat is at the heart of why animal agriculture is so bad for the planet. If we have to grow far more grain than we have to, that means we’re not just using far more land, we’re also using far more water, far more energy, and far more pesticides. And that extra energy use means we’re creating far more pollution and greenhouse gases.
This is by no means the complete list of problems with raising animals for food. For example, we haven’t even touched on the waterways ruined by animal runoff or rainforest deforestation. But really, how many more reasons do we need?
A vegetarian diet saves more water than if you gave up showering..!!
Meat production requires so much water it’s hard to comprehend.
As the chart shows, a pound of potatoes takes 99.6% less water to produce than a pound of beef, and 97% less than a pound of chicken.
If you gave up showering, you’d save less water than what’s required to make a single pound of beef. Not beef for a whole year, just one miserable pound. A whole year’s worth of showers takes about 5,200 gallons, but it takes 5,214 gallons to produce a single pound of beef.
If you gave up beef, you’d save over 300,000 gallons a year. A whole lot more than you could save by never showering.