Meat: An Environment Killer | Teen Ink

Meat: An Environment Killer MAG

October 30, 2009
By Vidushi Sharma BRONZE, Secaucus, New Jersey
Vidushi Sharma BRONZE, Secaucus, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

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!



Similar Articles

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 240 comments.


kratz said...
on Dec. 9 2010 at 9:59 am

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.

The writer of this article fails to understand BASIC economics. the only reason that so much wheat is produced in the first place is that it is needed by the meat industry.

in other words, the wheat they are talking about would not be produced were it not needed for the meat industry. What they outlined above is why meat is more expensive. demand is higher and supply is lower. If everyone stopped eating meat all they would do is put everyone who grows cattlfe food out of busniess


happy said...
on Dec. 9 2010 at 9:40 am
i totally agree with what you say

happy said...
on Dec. 9 2010 at 9:36 am
She isn't asking you to give up what you love. shes just telling you what are the major poplutions and what will happen in the futrue if we don't do something to drop the amount of polution coming from the meat factories.

moneyman12 said...
on Dec. 9 2010 at 7:47 am
I like what you are saying.

on Dec. 9 2010 at 1:31 am
The.King SILVER, Golden, Colorado
9 articles 1 photo 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A story's beginning is a sudden event. The start, a happy accident; the end, the fate for which it's meant. A story that never ends is a sad fate."-Miss Edel

pass on a hamburger!?  youre asking me to give up part of my soul...

on Dec. 3 2010 at 12:56 pm
KunaiNinjaFighter SILVER, Monticello, Arkansas
7 articles 0 photos 67 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Think left and thing right, Think low and Think High, Oh the thinks you can think up, if only you try!" Dr. Suess oh and "Two things are infinite: The Universe and Human Stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.'- Albert Einstein

yeah, but the bad side affects of eating meat all pertain on how you COOK it

on Dec. 3 2010 at 11:57 am
CourtneyHammett BRONZE, Spartanburg, South Carolina
1 article 7 photos 37 comments
Research the side effects of eating meat. Also, the vegetarians you speak of probably don't eat tofu or any other kind of mock meat.

on Dec. 3 2010 at 11:56 am
CourtneyHammett BRONZE, Spartanburg, South Carolina
1 article 7 photos 37 comments
I can respect your love of meat. :) There are no nutrients in meat that can't be found in a vitamin or in mock meat, but your input is appreciated. For some, it is just irresistable, even if it harms people in other places. You never have to meet those people.

on Dec. 3 2010 at 11:46 am
CourtneyHammett BRONZE, Spartanburg, South Carolina
1 article 7 photos 37 comments
This is amazing. So well-written and informative. Just the reminder I needed to return to vegetarianism.

on Dec. 3 2010 at 11:45 am
CourtneyHammett BRONZE, Spartanburg, South Carolina
1 article 7 photos 37 comments
Thank you, MangoMadness. Also, I'd like to raise the question, that if your god put animals here to be eaten, then why does eating them destroy his planet?

on Nov. 28 2010 at 3:52 pm
WrItEr2010 BRONZE, Durango, Colorado
4 articles 0 photos 15 comments
Here is the problem with your argument, animals were put on this earth for us to EAT. Also, i'd like to add that cattle, when just fed plants, provide manure that makes land fertile, therefore making it possible for plants to grow. 

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 28 2010 at 1:32 pm
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

Well, I'm not sure what you're talking about either, but you made me laugh. But don't take that the wrong way. You just seem very outspoken like a lot of friends. :)

chillifritoz said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 5:02 pm
chillifritoz, Fayetteville, North Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 20 comments

blackholehighalumni your so flippin lucky! im a vegetarian but thats only because i dont have a farm with my own personal milking cows, piglies and such. I live in a city with lots of ridicule and un open mindedness. but im going to boycott lol eating meat from giant azz companies untill they go in debt or whatever. sorry if i sound like i have no idea of what im talking about.

-NIRVANA


chillifritoz said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 4:55 pm
chillifritoz, Fayetteville, North Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 20 comments
i agree with mango madness. quit denying this stuff im tired of people telling me to stop beleiving everything i hear its annoying! yesss knowledge is sadness, but only if you accept it.

TommyOoOoO said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 12:35 pm
InkStainedFingers, you are my hero! I completely agree with you! All of your points are completely valid and even though people continue to argue with you, there's no way to ignore the fact that your points make complete and total sense! :)

TommyOoOoO said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 12:29 pm
Where on earth did you hear that cows were forced to eat meat? "Organic" meat is raised on veggies. NOT meat. If you're saying that organic meat is raised on meat, then it's NOT organic.

on Nov. 27 2010 at 12:27 pm
Honestly, I've read a lot of comments from the "meat eaters" and I don't think  any of them have been rude. And conversation killers? Uh huh. It's an opinion piece not a conversation. And actually they're conversation STARTERS. Do you see how many replies the "meat eaters" get? And really, the "meat eaters" are rude? I think the only reason they seem rude is because all the veg people attack them. They're really the rude people. What's so wrong about saying "I love meat"? What's so offensive about that? All they're doing is making a statement.It's an OPINION piece and a part of posting an OPINION piece is having others share their opinions on the topic. Who cares if you don't agree? As long as they aren't being rude (which they're not), there's nothing wrong with it. I mean, you're sharing your opinion by saying that peta isn't the best source for information. Aren't you being slightly hypocritical by saying (basically) that no "meat eaters" can share their opinions and yet you're sharing yours? Nobody's "shouting to a veg" that they love meat. And plus a lot of the "meat eaters" on here have good points. So, why don't you grow up and give THEM a little common courtesy!

And by calling them "Meat eaters", that's wrong. A meat eater is a carnivore, something that eats ONLY meat. I highly doubt anyone on here eats ONLY meat, and if they do, then ok, call them meat eaters. But the people you're calling meat eaters, they're called omnivores as in eating both meat and veggies.

Oh and if you find this "rude", sorry, but your comment is also rude, so deal with it!

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 11:59 am
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

I'm an animal lover also. I think people often confuse omnivores as people that hate animals. That's a wrong assumption. I have over twenty rabbits, a dog, two goats, two snakes, a frog, two geckos and several other pets. I don't think to eat meat you have to hate animals. And it's wrong to assume that (I'm not saying you are, but other people do). I know where meat comes from and I don't fool myself into thinking it comes from somewhere else.

on Nov. 26 2010 at 9:50 pm
nolongerinuse SILVER, San Antonio, Texas
8 articles 0 photos 60 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.” - Kahlil Gibran

But of course. I still eat poultry, myself, though feel sllightly guilty about it as I'm an animal lover and it makes it difficult to explain my eating habits to friends. :)

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 24 2010 at 7:35 am
TheJust ELITE, Ellenton, Florida
254 articles 202 photos 945 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I feel that a hero is somebody who will stand up for their values and what they believe in and that can take any form. People that have values and have thought them through rather than those who just do what they’re told."-Skandar Keynes

"When it’

Mangomadness,

I don't agree entirely with the statement that going veg is the healthier way to live. But I agree more with your comment than anyone else's. I agree that free-range anything is always healthier. I live on a farm and we raise our own meat. But a lot of people snub their noses to free-range meat because...well, I'm not sure why. But, no offence, I won't be giving up any of my meat anytime soon or going veg. :)