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& The Impact We Have

By Jordan Ayres & Edited By Andrew Sottile

The environment and its stability is treasured by most of us- as we have to live here!  Unsurprisingly, it's pretty important to our fellow earthlings as well. Many people go vegan for environmental reasons, which we will briefly sum up now. For more information it is vital that you do your own research. This serves as an introduction to learning about how a vegan lifestyle and an omnivorous diet impacts the planet.


Animal agriculture is responsible for more destruction than you might think.  In fact, it is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than all of the world’s combined exhaust from transportation (fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air and marine travel).  Livestock and their byproducts, however, account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. That is 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.  


Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame, and has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame.  Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.


Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.  Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.  Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.


2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef. 477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water is needed for 1lb. of cheese. 1,000 gallons of water is required to produce 1 gallon of milk.


5% of water consumed in the US is used by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all freshwater consumption in the world today.


But wait….  What about land?  Won’t switching to a vegan diet cause more deforestation?  


Think again!  Here is why veganism reduces the amount of land use and contributes to saving our ecosystems!


Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.  Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. 2-5 acres of land are used per cow.  Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture.


Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and "competition" species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources.


We are currently facing the largest mass extinction in 65 MILLION YEARS. Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every single day due to rainforest destruction. 136 million rainforest acres have been cleared for animal agriculture.   


Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction, and 1-2 acres more of rainforest are cleared every second. The leading cause of rainforest destruction are livestock and their feed-crops.


Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US. This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US. This means a farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people!


But don’t think that animal agriculture damage stops at the sky or the land, it affects our oceans as well in a very big way.  


` Due to our obsession with seafood; 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted. For every 1 kg of fish caught, up to 5 kg of unintended marine animals are also caught and then discarded as by-catch. This means we could see fishless oceans by the year 2048.  As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.


Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.


Another myth about veganism is that if we eliminated animal products, it would be impossible to feed everyone. Here is why that is false!  


It is actually the production of animal-based foods that is one of the leading causes of world hunger.


It has been proven many times that the world contains enough food to feed every man, woman and child on the planet.  


But if that were true; why are so many of us starving?  The answer to that question lies with the production of animal-based foods. Even though there are enough plant-based foods grown to feed the entire human population; the majority of crops (including those grown in countries where people are starving) are fed to livestock for affluent nations.   Since the amount of animal-based food produced by the farming industry is much less than the amount of plant food put into it, there is a “diminished return on the investment,” the food supply dwindles, and humans end up going hungry.


So, in a more simply put way…  We are feeding our livestock more food and nutrients than we get out of the livestock itself (burgers and such).  


The environment is precious to us all.  But is it precious enough to force us to change our ways, to live a more green, healthy lifestyle?  That is up to you to decide. If you’d like to learn the how’s of going vegan, check out our “Going Vegan” tab!

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