With all the environmental changes heading our way, it’s easy to feel guilty about a lot of things. Whether you drive (by yourself) to work, blast the heat at home while you’re out and about, or only feed your cat water from fiji rest assured, we all have our environmental vices. However, be not afraid, there are a lot of little things you can do to help make a positive impact, or lack-of-impact, on Mother Earth. One way to help promote positive change is to tweak your diet. Whether you choose to celebrate “meatless Mondays”, become a vegetarian, or even a hardcore vegan, you taking big strides towards environmental responsibility and here’s why…
Methane, one of the most talked about of the Greenhouse gases, abounds in feedlots. In fact, it is estimated that livestock production results in over 230 million tons of methane per year. Scientists don’t just take into account farts, mind you, but also the disposal of carcasses and manure. In 2006 the United Nations calculated the estimated “climate change emissions” of animals used for meat and found that meat production comprised 18% of the total. For a little perspective–that’s more than car and air travel combined.
If you aren’t concerned with climate change then take into account water resources. It’s estimated that 1 pound of beef requires 9,000 liters of water. Now multiply that by 270–the estimated amount of meat, in pounds, that the average American eats per year. That’s a helluva lot of water.
As of 2011, the Pew Charitable Trusts as well as the FDA have found that the meat industry is using roughly 4/5 of the antibiotics produced in the United States and their appetite is growing. Some say that the amount of antibiotics we consume via our meat isn’t cause for concern but consider this: a recent study by the National Antimicrobial Monitoring System (NARMS) found that, for example, of the Salmonella found on ground turkey in their test, 78% of it was resistant to one antibiotic and over half of the samples were resistant to two or more antibiotics. What does that mean for us? Well, in short, the more exposure we have to antibiotics, the less resistant our bodies become when challenged to germ warfare.
This land is meat’s land
Livestock production requires an extensive amount of land–for grazing, feeding, and housing. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization feed lots have contributed to vast deforestation, land erosion, and native plant and animal depletion world wide. In the United States, the meat industry has led to a unquenchable need for cheap energy for livestock. We have all heard by now how corn and wheat kings like Monsanto, have cornered the market on cheap feed and invariably weeded out the small, American farmer.
Don’t drink the water!
Ever been around a feedlot? The smell alone is enough to put you off meat for weeks. Now, just imagine all that sludge and filth eeking its’ way into surrounding water sources. For the most part, feedlots waste gets put into large ponds or waste-water facilities which at best causes the destruction of riparian habitats and and greatly affecting species diversity. At its worst, this toxic sludge, packed with nitrates, phosphates, feces, and decay makes its way into local water sources.