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Meat: An Environment Killer MAG
We’ve all seen our share of scientists in white coats, explaining what global warming is, why it’s dangerous, and what we can do to stop it. We encounter protests against fossil fuels and auto emissions. But the one industry that produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, ships, planes, and trucks in the world combined, according to GoVeg.com, has carefully avoided this scrutiny. The meat industry is an often-overlooked factor in environmental destruction, existing unnoticed as a major source of deforestation, wasted natural resources, and pollution.
Rainforests hold a wealth of plant and animal life. Trees are natural air filters, pulling harmful carbon dioxide from the air and converting it to oxygen. The meat industry, particularly cattle ranching, kills millions of acres of rainforest each year.
Just one quarter-pound hamburger requires the clearing of six yards of rainforest and the destruction of 165 pounds of living matter, including 20 to 30 plant species, 100 insect species, and dozens of birds, mammals, and reptiles, according to ChooseVeg.com. Small amounts of beef in an individual’s diet soon add up and do great harm to the environment.
Cattle farming turns fertile land into barren desert, threatening or eliminating more plant species in the U.S. than any other cause. Livestock grazing can be a huge threat to endangered species and may contribute to extinctions.
There is no doubt that the meat industry causes immense, irreversible harm to the earth’s rainforests. But this is not the only victim of the meat industry. Meat consumption also produces a massive amount of waste.
Four hundred and forty-one gallons of water is required for each pound of cattle raised, compared to just 14 gallons to grow a pound of grain, according to ChooseVeg.com. Three days of a typical non-vegetarian diet requires as much water as the average person uses showering for an entire year. An individual can save more than 3,700 gallons of water per day by eating a plant-based diet. Ogallala, the largest aquifer in America, is depleted by 12 trillion gallons a year, mostly due to soaring meat production. Besides draining our water supply, meat production leads to food shortages as well.
World hunger is a severe problem, with millions of men, women, and children going hungry each day. Most people do not realize that not eating meat could relieve starvation worldwide. Meat production takes up 70 percent of the world’s agricultural land. A single acre of farmland can, over a year, produce 250 pounds of beef or 40,000 potatoes. Yet it is not only land usage that prevents food from getting to the people who need it most. Twenty percent of the world’s population (1.4 billion people) could be fed with the grain and soy beans currently consumed by U.S. cattle alone. By adopting a vegetarian diet, individuals could cut the amount of land used to produce their food by a magnitude of ten.
Another unpleasant side effect of meat production is the pollution it produces. Animal agriculture creates five tons of waste per person over a typical lifetime in the U.S., according to ChooseVeg.com. That’s 87,000 pounds of waste each second. Animal waste from factory farms seeps into groundwater, contaminating it. Chicken, hog, and cattle manure has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated water in 17 states. The EPA reports that pollution from livestock farming is a leading cause of water contamination in the U.S., killing marine life and making drinking water unsafe.
Meat production is also a major cause of global carbon dioxide and methane pollution. These greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Colossal amounts of fossil fuel are used to grow food for livestock, dispose of remains, and transport the meat. Cows are a major cause of methane pollution because their waste contains large amounts of the gas. In America, cattle have altered the environment more than all the highways, strip mines, dams, and power plants combined, according to ChooseVeg.com.
Producing a single pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving an SUV 40 miles – 500 pounds of carbon dioxide for just a quarter-pound hamburger. Worldwide petroleum reserves would be exhausted in 11 years if the rest of the world started eating meat like the United States does. But if Americans skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted a vegetarian meal instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be equivalent to taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads (ChooseVeg.com)! Despite these undeniable statistics, some people defend eating meat and deny the impacts of an omnivorous diet on the environment.
There is no doubt that meat production harms the environment by contributing to deforestation, global warming, wasted resources, and pollution. The United Nations has said that going vegetarian is the greenest thing individuals can do to save the environment. The University of Chicago reports that going vegetarian is 50 percent more effective than switching to a hybrid car in reducing greenhouse emissions.
What did the great thinkers Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Mohandas Gandhi, and John Lennon have in common? They were all vegetarians. But don’t worry, there is no need to swear off meat all at once! By simply reducing your meat consumption (especially beef) you can take steps to help save the environment and stop global warming. Cut down a little bit each week at a pace that suits you. Refrain from eating that hamburger – our earth will thank you for it!
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
This article has 241 comments.
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" were so hot we make fire stop, drop, and roll<3" " I love you like a fat kid loves food"- lil wayne
" to the world you maybe one person but to one person, you maybe the world"
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i'm aslo a vegetarian.
i'm so glad someone is actually so aware of everyhting that goes on the in the world.
great work, its so azmaing that you bring people's attention to this.
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"I'm going to bed before you two come up with a worse idea to get us killed -- or worse, expelled." -- Hermione Granger, HP #1 <3 :]
I'm 13, and have been a vegetarian by choice for over 7 years. Great job with this article; I never knew how much of a positive impact vegetarianism has on the planet!
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"The key to the future lies in the past"
"Impossible just means it has yet to happen"
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THIS IS AMAZING! If there is anyway to get this in the magazine, it could reach so many people!!!
I have been a vegetarian for atleast a year now and it is the best decision i have ever made! And this article makes it all the better!!!!
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I agree, though i'm a vegetarian, i don't think the author was biased,(I don't like that approch.) To be persasive enough they had to put a great deal of opinion, i don't think the author was too firm.
I see your point though, there is alot of biased info out there.
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I love this essay!!! i'm already a vegetarian (in a family of meat eaters) this is an inspiration to keep at it.
I loved the ending paragraph,you did your homework :)
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I don't know what to write here. :D
P.S. I'm really hyper!!!!!!!!!!
9 articles 0 photos 14 comments
\"When we\'re taught to love everyone, to love our enemies, What value does that place on love?\" Marilyn Manson
4 articles 1 photo 45 comments
Friends are like glue, they always stick by your side.
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"Conscience begs for you to do what's right. Everyday it's still the same dull knife, Stab it through and justify your pride..." -Black Veil Brides
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is this a trick question or what?-Calvin and Hobbes