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.


knd071 BRONZE said...
on Oct. 26 2010 at 9:04 am
knd071 BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

I understand the points of this topic, going vegetarian would be a great impact on the world...if the manufacturers would reduce production and land consumption. Sure, we might reduce some of the waste, but unless everyone pitches in, including those that make the meat millions in America eat, this movement will not move an inch. I'm not trying to sound negative, as I am sure that this article has at least caused change to one individual, though these are my views.

One point that did concern me was how this article took on the offense, and never flipped to bring views from the other side. Considering this, perhaps your next article will offer both views, as this was the only part in your article I did not like. 


on Oct. 21 2010 at 2:53 pm
kristina-marie SILVER, Olla, Louisiana
6 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Fool, said my muse to me, look in thy heart and write." (Loving in Truth) written by: Sir Phillip Stanley 1554-1586

oh my gah! you preach it! I totally agree. you could be like my long lost sister or something.

hplover123 said...
on Oct. 15 2010 at 10:55 pm
Im a vegetarian. And I have searched so much, and found out that vegetarians CAN eat eggs, but still, I was eating a omelet today and i was so sad. I have a suggestion. When you by eggs at the store, make sure to by the ones that say 'unfertilized' it's better for you, and the chickens. :)

on Oct. 4 2010 at 9:27 pm
Serendipity_Pen GOLD, Shakopee, Minnesota
12 articles 28 photos 86 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."
~ Arthur C. Clarke
"Better to remain silent and thought a fool then to speak and remove all doubt." ~Abraham Lincoln

Wow! It's really evident that you did your homework. And I completely agree with you. I also think that eating bi-products decreases ones lifespan, which is why many people in thae past lived much longer than 80 some years. Thanks for the information!!

on Oct. 4 2010 at 4:02 pm
Sorry, but really, I don't care. I'm all for the enviorment and you'll never see me have a single thought on hurting any animal but meat is jsut too yummy!!! I understand that there are downsides to meat, but until they come up with s bacon tree I'll have a steak medium rare!

fhocker7495 said...
on Oct. 4 2010 at 3:38 pm

This article was really well written!! Good job!!

I've been a vegetarian for just under two years, and I can tell that you've really done your research :)

I think that being a vegetarian is a beneficial thing not only for the environment, but also for your own personal health. Meat causes a lot of health problems (heart disease) and by eliminating you lower your chances for heart disease and high cholestroel.

Some people have said that its not possible to live w/o eating meat, but thats completely false, it is very possible, and has been proven to be better for you.

And obviously going veg is better for the animals - many of them are factory farmed, good book to read is Eating Animals if your ingterested in this stuff!

Again-Congrats on a job well done


on Oct. 4 2010 at 3:47 am
ukloveslife BRONZE, Dubai, Other
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
i am the captain of my soul ...i am the master of my fate

oh im a vegetarian except fro some occasional eggs....its healthy being one....

but my sister complained that in US its hard to find vegetarian foods at any restaurant..she practically makes everything at home....so even if one converts..its hard for them to keep up.


on Oct. 2 2010 at 3:17 pm
lumpkins BRONZE, Plainfeild, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 7 comments

just because some people stop dosent mean the industry will stop or the same amount of live stock wount be made i know many people who benift from raising animals inculuding me plus you have to think many animals are raised for other perpases besides eating them to stop eating meat would be unbenifital

 


on Sep. 19 2010 at 7:27 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

I feel that this article for just vegetarians because I really like my burgers and steaks. Yes, the cattle industry is responsible for SOME of the greenhouse gasses output (mainly methane). BUT, there is one thing you failed to overlook. No one can live off of just veggies, beans, and nuts. I dont agree with the vegetarian POV, but I respect it. This article was well written, despite the lack of more than one source.

~

I didn't climb to the top of the foodchain to eat rabbit food (no offense)


Ben Dover said...
on Sep. 16 2010 at 9:12 am
Dude like OMG

AsIAm PLATINUM said...
on Sep. 12 2010 at 1:09 pm
AsIAm PLATINUM, Somewhere, North Carolina
48 articles 3 photos 606 comments

Favorite Quote:
"According to some, heroic deaths are admirable things. (Generally those who don't have to do it. Politicians and writers spring to mind.) I've never been convinced by this argument, mainly because, no matter how cool, stylish, composed, unflappable, manly, or defiant you are, at the end of the day you're also dead. Which is a little too permanent for my liking." — Jonathan Stroud (Ptolemy's Gate)

Fiction (romance reality and thriller), personal experience (friendships and moving), political opinion (Arizona Immigration Law)

on Sep. 4 2010 at 9:04 pm
wildheart SILVER, Albany, Oregon
7 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
"God doesn't believe in Atheists, therefore they don't exist." "Spoon!" "Looka that batch of kills that just got kowed."

I think your suggestion at the end really wrapped up the end of your article well. You've really done your homework! A lot of the facts you have found are amazing in the future of the environment. What do you think we should do about the cattle, though? It doesn't seem right to just kill them off or set them free to eat up whatever land they find.

HCReingold said...
on Sep. 3 2010 at 9:42 pm
HCReingold, Rochester, New York
0 articles 0 photos 10 comments
*reason, *cattle, *enviornment, *cramped, *pile, *spread, *properly, *don't, *myself, *seafood, *supporting, *very, *against, *don't where all spelled incorrectly, although your comment is quite well writen. Sorry for my perfectionisim :P

on Aug. 22 2010 at 1:46 pm
AnneOnnimous BRONZE, Peterborough Ontario, Other
3 articles 0 photos 146 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."
— John Green

cool, what kind of stuff is it that you submitted?

AsIAm PLATINUM said...
on Aug. 21 2010 at 7:45 pm
AsIAm PLATINUM, Somewhere, North Carolina
48 articles 3 photos 606 comments

Favorite Quote:
"According to some, heroic deaths are admirable things. (Generally those who don't have to do it. Politicians and writers spring to mind.) I've never been convinced by this argument, mainly because, no matter how cool, stylish, composed, unflappable, manly, or defiant you are, at the end of the day you're also dead. Which is a little too permanent for my liking." — Jonathan Stroud (Ptolemy's Gate)

Thanks for pointing that out, I spaced out a little bit. :) Sorry for that guys.  And I'm glad you thought my points were valid.  I hope to have some of my own work up here soon - I just joined and it is getting approved.  Thanks again! ~AsIAm

on Aug. 21 2010 at 7:37 pm
AnneOnnimous BRONZE, Peterborough Ontario, Other
3 articles 0 photos 146 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."
— John Green

*Please note that "you're" means "you are", whereas "your" means "belonging to you." You made some really good points though :)

AsIAm PLATINUM said...
on Aug. 21 2010 at 7:26 pm
AsIAm PLATINUM, Somewhere, North Carolina
48 articles 3 photos 606 comments

Favorite Quote:
"According to some, heroic deaths are admirable things. (Generally those who don't have to do it. Politicians and writers spring to mind.) I've never been convinced by this argument, mainly because, no matter how cool, stylish, composed, unflappable, manly, or defiant you are, at the end of the day you're also dead. Which is a little too permanent for my liking." — Jonathan Stroud (Ptolemy's Gate)

I have NO idea why that posted twice, and also the "an" in the first paragraph is supposed to be an "and". ~AsIAm

AsIAm PLATINUM said...
on Aug. 21 2010 at 7:24 pm
AsIAm PLATINUM, Somewhere, North Carolina
48 articles 3 photos 606 comments

Favorite Quote:
"According to some, heroic deaths are admirable things. (Generally those who don't have to do it. Politicians and writers spring to mind.) I've never been convinced by this argument, mainly because, no matter how cool, stylish, composed, unflappable, manly, or defiant you are, at the end of the day you're also dead. Which is a little too permanent for my liking." — Jonathan Stroud (Ptolemy's Gate)

On You're Writing:  You're writing is inspired, persuasive, and fact-supported.  However, I noticed that you only cited one source, and that it was a source encouraging people to be vegetarian.  A good argument needs to have aspects from both sides of the spectrum, to counter any doubts your reader might have.  Also, it needs to have supporting research from many different places, to avoid bias an twisting of the facts.

On You're Argument:  I see what you mean about meat production being harmful to the environment in several ways.  I also think it would be a great idea if everybody ate just one vegetarian meal a week - it would work wonders!  But there IS another side to the coin.  Humans are part of the environment too, and we need meat (or supplementation for the vitamins in meat) to survive, just as other omnivores and carnivores do.  If people went vegetarian without a proper understanding of the nutrients they would need to supplement, they could become very sick.  And the environment is like a web, with everything connected.  If you mess up the balance of one creature (humans or even cows), other things will be effected.  It's nice to think we could all just stop eating meat and everything would be fine, but here's the thing.  We've already developed life around meat - if we want to change it we need to replace it, because it would be detrimental to take it away all at once.

Great writing, and keep standing up for what you believe in.  I may not agree, but the world could use a few more people willing to defend their beliefs (as long as they are educated beliefs).  ~AsIAm


on Aug. 21 2010 at 10:25 am
inksplatters21 SILVER, Mason, Ohio
6 articles 0 photos 84 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Character is how you live when no one is watching."

I've been experimenting with vegetarianism, and this article was very inspiring!  Have you seen FoodInc?  It's a great movie.  Thank you for your words, you definitely made a difference.

br123 said...
on Aug. 15 2010 at 10:15 pm
Your writing is great and very inspirational, and although I have done a lot to try and protect the environment, I believe that eating meat is a part of survival. Although there are alternatives such as tofu, eating meat is a part of culture all around the world. Instead, those who do eat a lot of meat can try eating organically. And maybe instead of cutting out meat, people can try and do other more simple tasks that won't change their entire lifestyles like carpooling or even biking or play outside instead of watching T.V.