The meat and dairy production is the main cause of much environmental damage:
- Deforestation: Forests are cleared, so animals can be raised and animal feed can be grown on the cleared land. Maybe you have heard before that rainforests are being destroyed in order to cultivate genetically modified soy. This soy is being fed to so-called “livestock”, humans aren’t allowed to eat it.
- 36% of the worldwide crop harvest and 70% of the soy harvest worldwide is used to feed livestock
- The livestock husbandry takes up 30% of the earth’s land
- 70% of the former rainforest in the amazon area is used as grasslands for livestock*
- Loss of species diversity: Due to destruction of wildlife habitat a lot of species are endangered. As I wrote in “Why vegan? – Part 1: For the animals”, the oceans are extremely fished out and therefore, a lot of fish and marine animals are dying out.
- 60-70% of the caught fish get fed to livestock
- Lack of drinking water: Meat production uses an immense amount of water.
- On one hand, to produce 1kg of beef, 15 000 liters of water needs to be used. On the other hand, 1kg of grain only needs 1,300 liters.**
- Air and water pollution: The manure produced by factory farming is full of chemicals and bacteria that pollute the air through evaporation and contaminate the groundwater by seeping into the ground.
- Greenhouse gas emissions: Emissions due to dairy and milk production amount to more than all of the emissions from traffic worldwide (including air traffic!). Greenhouse gasses (more specifically, ozone depleting substances) causing more holes in the Ozone Layer, and in turn causing climate change. Thus, the oceans are warming up which is contributing to the death of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Methane produced by cattle contributes to global warming to the same extent as 33 million cars
- 37% of the methane, 65% of the Nitrous oxide and 64% of the ammonia in the atmosphere comes from the emissions produced by livestock***
(Translation: damage to the climate caused by different diets (Green: organic, purple: normal): 1) vegan, 2) vegetarian, 3) meat eating)
Production of livestock damages the environment, no matter if for meat or milk. And no matter if on a large or on a small scale. In both cases, the cattle have to eat and drink and are using up our resources. The cattle have to shit and produce methane which is highly damaging to the climate.
If you are truly interested in environmental/climate protection, or if you are already doing other things like conserving water or recycling, then switching to vegan products or even transferring to a complete vegan diet is the chance for you to really engage yourself. So simple!
In the following video the UN declares that a transition to a vegan diet is essential for our climate to be maintained:
***Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M.