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!



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This article has 240 comments.


on Nov. 23 2010 at 7:50 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

Like i reply posted above, if you even just buy healthier meat (free-range, not injected with hormones) you'll be helping the planet and still enjoying your hotdogs. :)

on Nov. 23 2010 at 7:47 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

Whether or not you agree with the enviromental proof of damage to the earth, it's also simply healthier to go vegetarian. Way less parasites, and such. It's okay though, if you can't go completely veg. I personally suggest maybe just limiting your meat intake to only free-range meat, not injected with hormones. Even little changes help, so you needn't look at it as changing everything or nothing.

on Nov. 23 2010 at 7:42 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

You just are too lazy to save your own planet. Go and grumble somewhere else, like in Kazakhstan, where acid rain makes everyone's hair fall out, or North-Eastern China, where the toxic fumes cause asthma and other medical conditions.

Hey! Veg >.< said...
on Nov. 20 2010 at 7:52 am

I do like this article, in that it addresses the basic "meat is killing the Earth" topic.

However, I do believe that PETA isn't the best source to choose from if you want people to take you seriously. (GoVeg and ChooseVeg are the same people).

Beef is the meat that uses the most water, pork is the meat that generates huge particle-air pollution, and poultry meats pollute water with their nitrogenous feces. Fishing depletes the ocean and destroys ecosystems. These are basics, found in almost all vegetarian source material.

Also, to some of the people commenting on this, grow up already! She's speaking her mind and has her sources. That's the point of the piece. Its persuasive. I find it tiresome to no end when people shout "I love meat" at a vegetarian. I find it disrespectful. That's great that you "love meat", but nothing kills a decent conversation faster than putting the other person down.  A little common courtesy, please.


on Nov. 19 2010 at 7:30 pm
Vidushi Sharma BRONZE, Secaucus, New Jersey
2 articles 2 photos 4 comments
Animals are bred on factory farms for the sole purpose of being killed for food. Less demand for meat=less animals bred by artifical insemination on factory farms. Simple.

HC R said...
on Nov. 12 2010 at 9:00 pm
:P Sorry...

JK :) said...
on Nov. 12 2010 at 7:24 pm
Sorry to ruin it for you, but you spelled 'were' incorrectly :) not where......

rachelsmith said...
on Nov. 12 2010 at 6:03 pm
Yup and they're all morons. Research side-affects of being a vegatarian. It may surprise you.

on Nov. 12 2010 at 12:35 am
ebony_and_irony, Tracy, California
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Most vegetarians do not simply eat veggies, beans, and nuts - we eat a lot of other things, too (grains, fruits, dairy, etc.)!

It is entirely possible to have a healthy (and delicious) meat-free diet. In fact, many health experts believe that following a vegetarian diet (or at least a diet free of anything but lean meat/and or fish) is the healthiest way to live.


TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 11 2010 at 7:38 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’

Maybe you should do some research. More meat than you think comes from farms. But you know what w/e. I'm over this argument. Have a nice time with your veggies, I'm going to finish my ham pizza. Buh-bye.

caitlin.d135 said...
on Nov. 11 2010 at 7:09 pm
caitlin.d135, Bethesda, Maryland
0 articles 11 photos 18 comments
well aren't you so fancy. Now of course you're one out of a million. Everyone else in America gets their meat from a factory farm. 

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 11 2010 at 3:52 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’

HAHAHAHA! Actually, yes, I DO know where my meat comes from. It comes from my backyard. Did you ever stop to think that maybe I live on a farm? Maybe I should slap you for your own ignorance. Don't go making assumptions about people before you know the facts. I know exactly where my meat, veggies and eggs come from and what goes into the growing of them, thank you very much.

caitlin.d135 said...
on Nov. 11 2010 at 3:46 pm
caitlin.d135, Bethesda, Maryland
0 articles 11 photos 18 comments
I respect your POV but would like to let you know that eating "organic" meat isn't what you think it means. Organic meat still used to be a cow that was forced to eat meat (completely un-natural by the way) because it is cheaper than grass, and that was penned up in a factory farm and probably never saw daylight. And becoming a vegetarian is the single best way someone can help the environment. You should take an environmental science course, you would probably like it.

caitlin.d135 said...
on Nov. 11 2010 at 3:40 pm
caitlin.d135, Bethesda, Maryland
0 articles 11 photos 18 comments
False. Becoming a vegetarian is the single best way you could help the environment. And if you don't think that changing things you do would help the environment, then you are ignorant. 

caitlin.d135 said...
on Nov. 11 2010 at 3:37 pm
caitlin.d135, Bethesda, Maryland
0 articles 11 photos 18 comments
HAHAHAHAHAH I actually want to slap you. I mean, sorry, but I do. You're so ignorant. Did you even do research before you stupidly said eating meat doesn't hurt the environment? Do you even KNOW where your meat comes from? Obviously not. Well let me tell you, every piece of meat you consume comes from a factory farm. Becoming a vegetarian is the single best way to help the environment. Go take a class on environmental science. 

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 9 2010 at 6:06 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’

Dude I completely agree! And you're right, it's unhealthy and unnatural for humans to eat only veggies. And yeah, my rabbits food doesn't look too tastey. :)

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 9 2010 at 6:04 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’

Haha, completely agree! But make mine well-done. ;)

TheJust ELITE said...
on Nov. 9 2010 at 6:03 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’

I'm sorry, but I love meat. I would die without chicken noodle soup, pork chops, steak or chicken mcnuggets. I'm not stopping anytime soon.

And eating meat does not hurt the enviroment. I'm not sure where you got that, but it doesn't. Eating meat actually helps the enviroment. It keeps the animal population in check. If animals were left to themselves, they would be multiplying left and right which would, in the long run, be bad for the enviroment. Sorry, but I don't agree. :/


DNO414 BRONZE said...
on Oct. 28 2010 at 12:01 pm
DNO414 BRONZE, Maringouin, Louisiana
1 article 0 photos 5 comments
I eat meat everyday. I love my beef, pork, and poultry. I didn't know that when cattle was killed it harmed the environment. It hurts me to see an animal get slaughtered, but I have to get my nutrients. I'm not being harsh, but being a vegetarian is not for me. Beef and Pork are what I need to survive.

kmd109 BRONZE said...
on Oct. 26 2010 at 9:09 am
kmd109 BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
1 article 0 photos 5 comments
I personally eat meat everyday.  By reading this article, I learned about the effects of eating meat on the environment.  I have always heard about the effect of eating meat on your body, but never on how it affects the environment.  I believe that it is important to understand what happens when we make certain decisions.