Following my last post on veganism, I wanted to extend further research on the effects meat consumption has on the environment and how a person who follows a vegan diet can reduce these problems.

Last year, meat consumption was higher than any other year over the past four decades. Rabobank, a research firm specializing in food and agriculture, calculated per-capita meat consumption to be roughly 193 pounds of meat annually; 3.7 pounds a week. With this much meat consumption, factory farms are producing more meat than ever before. An alarming 56 billion animals are killed a year for food. But what affect does all this have on us and our world?

Livestock production alone accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 9 percent of carbon dioxide, and 37 percent of methane gas emissions worldwide. These gases effect our planet by warming it up and being a top contributor to global warming. LEAD researchers also found that the global livestock industry uses an extreme supply of freshwater, destroys forests and grasslands, and causes soil erosion.Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second for livestock production and is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction. A whopping 136 million acres of land has been used for animal agriculture and that number is continuously growing. According to COWspiracy 110 animals and insects are lost everyday because of rainforest destruction. The pollution caused from livestock production even affects the ocean. As the climate warms coral is bleaching killing off many homes and food for wildlife, fish are migrating to colder parts of the ocean decreasing food for some animals and changing the ecosystem, and ocean acidification which is damaging many ocean species that use calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and shells. 

Factory farms also use and produce an excessive amount of animal waste and fertilizer. Runoff of these things contaminate our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Not only does the runoff carry fertilizer and animal waste, but also many antibiotics. Since livestock accounts for 50 percent of the use of antibiotics around the world, drug-resistant strains of bacteria may be passed directly between animals and humans, to humans who consume meat and milk from infected animals, and both drug-resistant bacteria and un-metabolized antibiotics may be released into the environment through the animals’ excrement. Much of what we are drinking and eating can cause drug-resistant infections and illnesses, meaning bacteria is evolving so rapidly that human made antibiotics can no longer fight off infection. According to, the large groups of confined animals on factory farms can become breeding grounds for pathogens, and such zoonotic diseases as salmonella, E. coli, avian influenza, and swine flu. Without proper medication for infections, such as these, by 2050 ten million people could lose their lives.

As the consumer demand for meat production continues to increase meat eaters are helping to contribute to the global destruction of our planet and endangerment of not only various nonhuman animal species, but our very own species as well. Going vegan can help reduce many environmental issues. A person who follows this diet produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases and use only 1/13th water and 1/18th land compared to a meat eater. If we want a better world to live in, we must start making changes to many aspects of our life. Although there are many ways to help the environment, veganism is the top contributor in helping nonhuman animals, humans, and the environment. Think about it this way; if you make the decision to become vegan you are literally saving yourself.  

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