Animal Consumption and Our Environment

Animal Consumption is Bad For Our Health and Our Environment

Americans consume by far more animals and animal by products than any nation in the world. We are an affluent society who have gorged ourselves on the flesh of animals and are reaping the consequences of our opulence. Proportionate to our animal consumption is the rise in rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, strokes etc. But this is not the only scourge our excesses have precipitated. It's one thing to make choices that adversely affect our own bodies, it's quite another to make choices that affect the very environment in which we live both nationally and globally. I make no apologies for the following facts, because facts really don't require apologies but rather sane people ought to heed them.

The Heavy Toll of Animal Consumption on Our Natural Resources Such as Water …

The Production of beef requires vast stores of water: The nearly 20 billion head of livestock in the world require great quantities of water in order to provide irrigation for the grains and hay which they must be fed. Actually the only reason grain is fed to livestock (they should eat grass) is for the purpose of fattening them up quickly so they can be slaughtered for your steak dinner. Cows should not be eating grain any more than you should be eating your tennis shoe. The production of 2 pounds of beef takes roughly 5000 gallons of water. Your "Quarter Pounder with Cheese" used about 650 gallons of water. It only takes about 50 gallons of water to produce 2 pounds of "Wheaties" and for the most part Wheaties won't wreak havoc on your health. In case you have been living under a rock for the past 20 years or so you are probably aware that we have a major water shortage crisis on our hands. Water tables are shrinking faster than you can say "where's the beef?", And increasing numbers of water wells are drying up at an alarming rate. According to the United States Geological Survey, in the year 2000 around 40% of all the fresh water in the United States went towards the irrigation of land to raise feed for livestock. Only around 15% was used for such things as taking showers. Therefore our meat consumption excesses are not only very hard on the water supply, but it seems animal consumption is also hard on the nose.

And Fossil Fuel Energy …

Raising the livestock that will ultimately cause your heart attack also depletes other precious natural resources. Forget the cost of the grain used to feed livestock (again, a cow eating grain is the equivalent of you eating your tennis shoe), how about the cost of fossil fuel energy. An annual 10% of all of the energy used in the US goes to the production of agriculture, the majority of which goes to the raising (torture) of livestock.

And Our Topsoil …

Our topsoil is a less discussed but hugely vital resource that is being steadily eroded due to the greatly increased need for corn and soybeans necessary to feed the livestock that will aid in your quest to become a full blown diabetic. It is quite possible that we lose nearly 10 billion tons of topsoil every year and that is a whole bunch faster than nature can replace it.

And Our Rain Forest …

The rain forest is vital to the environment on a global scale but is being destroyed at alarming rates. The forestland has to be cut down in order to raise livestock so you can clog your arteries with a juicy burger at Wendy's. As a bonus you get the added benefit of knowing that your hamburger was responsible for the loss of nearly 60 square feet of tropical rain forest. This fact might not raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels but I can assure you that your animal based diet will.

Air and Water Pollution …

Speaking of "stinky", our environment is dangerously threatened by increasing pollution to our air and water supply. You probably wouldn't be able to keep down your lunch if you stopped to consider the staggering amounts of manure and urine produced by the raising (warehousing of vast numbers of animals into incredibly cruel and cramped spaces) of livestock. Livestock in the US alone produce billions of tons of manure each year. That's a lot of crap man! Where are we supposed to put all that? I know, let's put it in our oceans and lakes! Out of sight out of mind, right? We can spread the rest on fields for fertilizer. Yeah, let's do that! While we're at we can spread the disease, which is inherent in the waste, to human consumers everywhere. By the way, would you care to venture a guess as to what that cow had for dinner? How about ground up animal carcasses, growth hormones, and antibiotics. No wonder antibiotics haven't worked for you for a long time. Anyway since cows don't have the stomach for digesting dead carcasses, (we really don't either) guess where the residues, poisons and diseases present in all that stuff go? Right! ON YOUR PLATE !!!

A Real Stinky Situation …

Speaking of stench, have you ever tried living within a few miles or so of a livestock factory? Well the foul smell is the least of your worries. How about fun gasses such as methane, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia. Enter respiratory problems, acid rain, and brown clouds of smog. In terms of greenhouse gasses, methane is at least 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

These are just a few of the plagues that our infatuation with meat have caused and I am afraid that when the final bill comes in we will not be able to afford the high price. We can't even afford the health care costs that our atrocious dietary choices have generated, much less the heavy toll on our environment.

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