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 Jun. 7 2010 at 4:00 pm
DayofRain50 GOLD, Robbinsville, New Jersey
14 articles 0 photos 48 comments
Im sorry, I jut hate it when people say the "God created animals for human consumption." I am not a vegetarian, I love meat, but that isn't true. First, no one knows if God is real or not real. Do not bring him in. Second, animals were on earth way before us. Just because we have opposable thumbs and can build cities, does not mean everything on earth was created just for our basic needs.

on Jun. 7 2010 at 3:56 pm
DayofRain50 GOLD, Robbinsville, New Jersey
14 articles 0 photos 48 comments
I love the environment, but too many things that I love are meat. It would just be way too hard for me to stop. Sorry. 

lindzy14 GOLD said...
on Jun. 3 2010 at 8:52 pm
lindzy14 GOLD, Lawrence, Kansas
10 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Great article! :) \

Very informative and well-written. Definitely an eye opener. I have never thought about the meat industry in that way.

 


on May. 29 2010 at 8:24 am
BrainsANDBeauty PLATINUM, Donnellson, Iowa
29 articles 3 photos 52 comments

Favorite Quote:
I knew that guy when he was a caterpillar, you know, before he 'came out'

We don't sell, either.  It's a family tradition.

on May. 28 2010 at 10:51 pm
Ink_Stained_Fingers BRONZE, Coeur D&#39Alene, Idaho
2 articles 2 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
If love isn't a game, how come all I'm seeing are players?

I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I'm not.

Micheal, close your mouth! We are not a codfish!
~Mary Popp

yes, but meat is much more natural than tofu. and much better tasting, might i add ;)

i am anemic, and i need to eat as much meat and other iron-supplying foods as possible, or i simply cannot function.


on May. 28 2010 at 10:48 pm
Ink_Stained_Fingers BRONZE, Coeur D&#39Alene, Idaho
2 articles 2 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
If love isn't a game, how come all I'm seeing are players?

I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I'm not.

Micheal, close your mouth! We are not a codfish!
~Mary Popp

exactly...my whole family out west refuses to sell, and only passes their land down through the family.

on May. 28 2010 at 10:47 pm
Ink_Stained_Fingers BRONZE, Coeur D&#39Alene, Idaho
2 articles 2 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
If love isn't a game, how come all I'm seeing are players?

I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I'm not.

Micheal, close your mouth! We are not a codfish!
~Mary Popp

yes; big industries are more concerned with making money than being good stewards of the earth...but that does not mean i will stop eating meat.

yes, our impact on the earth has grown...but actually, population is declining. europe and asia's reproduction rate is well below replacement level.

plus, the global warming occuring today is not man-made. nature, on its own, contributes billions of pounds of co2 into the atmopshere, while mankinds contribution is simply puny compared to it.

secondly, why would global warming be bad? even if it did increase, the rate at which it would warm (even according to pro-global warming scientists) is barely any, about half of one degree every decade or so, and it definitely isn't a steady rate of warming. not enough for any ice caps to melt, and a warmer climate is actually better for both plants and humans.

those are just the facts, plain and simple.


on May. 26 2010 at 8:13 pm
BrainsANDBeauty PLATINUM, Donnellson, Iowa
29 articles 3 photos 52 comments

Favorite Quote:
I knew that guy when he was a caterpillar, you know, before he 'came out'

I know they will try, but we only sell to our local Iowa people.  Nowhere else.  We are safe.

robbi BRONZE said...
on May. 26 2010 at 7:43 pm
robbi BRONZE, Goldsboro, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
quotes are for people who are too uncreative to come up with their own sources of information.----ME.

that is exactly right; )

robbi BRONZE said...
on May. 26 2010 at 7:42 pm
robbi BRONZE, Goldsboro, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
quotes are for people who are too uncreative to come up with their own sources of information.----ME.

maybe you should send YOUR food to others. Im keeping mine. also, i will stop eating animals the day they stop eating people.; )

i<3steven! said...
on May. 26 2010 at 2:05 pm
i<3steven!, Newcastle, California
0 articles 0 photos 95 comments

Favorite Quote:
*john-son-johnson*
Inside Joke

well that's nice and all, but i just don't feel like eating meat right now and i don't think it's a permanent thing for me...it's just something i am doing

peggy87 said...
on May. 25 2010 at 9:06 pm

The few people I knew who are vegitarian do it for environmental reasons. They explained it to me in simple terms, but this article went much more in depth which made it very interesting.

I do like the environment, but I think I love meat too much to ever become a vegitarian.


on May. 25 2010 at 9:05 pm
Shannon_Bananon, Loveland, Ohio
0 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
About talking; why don't people ever think before they talk? It would save so much trouble; it would also save me from wanting to slap about half of the world's population.
~Fictional Character (Brilliant, but, sadly, fake.)

Fingers: Yes, global warming began naturally, however, at the rate we are polluting the atmosphere and warming the earth, it won't get colder.

Humans have also existed for a long while. That doesn't mean we have an equivalent impact to when we were a primitive species.


on May. 25 2010 at 7:59 pm
struck-by-llamas, Eureka, California
0 articles 16 photos 53 comments
I like this article. It's not the meat thats killing us, its the way we have chosen to 'farm' it, for lack of a better word. Encouraging environmental awareness is what counts, and I think you did that well.

on May. 25 2010 at 7:16 pm
treegirl93 BRONZE, San Antonio, Texas
1 article 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be nice to trees- they'll become books someday.

And those small farmers will slowly be bought out by the Meat Trust. They are power hungry people. I wish your family all the luck then.

on May. 25 2010 at 7:14 pm
treegirl93 BRONZE, San Antonio, Texas
1 article 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be nice to trees- they'll become books someday.

I'm sorry but that thought made me want to throw up. Well, it's your colon. Peace and Love.

on May. 25 2010 at 7:13 pm
treegirl93 BRONZE, San Antonio, Texas
1 article 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be nice to trees- they'll become books someday.

Most people don't go veggie the right way. There are toms of grains and beans that are good for you. A big bowl of rice and beans is a complete protien and is filling too. Most Americans get way more servings of meat than is necessary to live. I personally love pasta. You don't have to love vegetables to be vegetarian. Eating fruits and vegetables that are out of season actually does more damage to the environment. Ancient Civilizations like the Chinese and Hindus were vegetarian and many American writers in the late 1800s took this ideal from them. Now China is more Westernized but it used to be that Chinese women would live longer and be healthier than meat eating women. Meat eaters have also a higher chance at alzhiemers.

on May. 25 2010 at 7:05 pm
treegirl93 BRONZE, San Antonio, Texas
1 article 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be nice to trees- they'll become books someday.

That's usually the way things are done though. If the writer had simply said, "Be Vegetarian" without using any exaggerations the article wouldn't have been as persuasive. The media uses the same tactics to back wars and certain political polices. Uncle Tom's Cabin is an early example of a somewhat exaggerated book that got the North riled up. I think the writer did a great job of presenting the facts without much bias.

on May. 25 2010 at 6:59 pm
treegirl93 BRONZE, San Antonio, Texas
1 article 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be nice to trees- they'll become books someday.

It is true that cows have been around forever but people have not always eaten them (shock). They have been used for milk, cheese, and butter. Mow ranching is big business instead of small farming. The Meat Trust is a trillion dollar industry that exploits as much of the earth's resorces as it can not to mention the underpaid overworked meat factory workers who often have a plethera of injuries and often die. No one seems to realize that someone had to kill that cow skin it with large knives that cut themselves and their neighbors because of the overcrowding of the factories. Fastfood nation is a good source. It really puts the Meat industtry in prospective. By the Way- we can't leave the earth alone since we live on it. We suck the natural resources (coal, oli, vitamins, fish) from our Earth mother till she can no longer sustain us and we will die.

on May. 25 2010 at 3:56 pm
Ink_Stained_Fingers BRONZE, Coeur D&#39Alene, Idaho
2 articles 2 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
If love isn't a game, how come all I'm seeing are players?

I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I'm not.

Micheal, close your mouth! We are not a codfish!
~Mary Popp

That's what my grandfather does! In fact, it's better for the Earth than just leaving the fields for nothing.