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 Apr. 18 2011 at 7:41 pm
BabyGirlBrittany SILVER, Cincinnati, Ohio
8 articles 0 photos 10 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life isnt about finding yourself, Its about creating yourself,"

This article was great! Very informative. I used to be a vegatarian, I think its not eating meat that we need to change , Its the way we raise and slaughter the meat. We need to change alot in that manner. It'd very concerning and inhumane.

on Apr. 16 2011 at 3:17 pm
ninjadragon56 SILVER, Denver, Colorado
6 articles 4 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Private favorite personal quote, do not read, all violaters will be prosicuted.

I think you have an interesting opinion for sure, but i would like to join the conversation.

As humans we are omnivores, we have the flat back teth for grinding up and chewing plants but we also have canines and sharper front teeth to tear at meat. Huams are also predators, with eyes set at the front of there head to hunt better and bi-pedalism to become more efficiant when we run we are evolved to hunt and eat plants and meat. Humans are ment to eat both plants and meat.

Being a vewgitarian is great if thats for you, i respectthat desision but i do disagree with the idea that everyone should be vegitarian. We are doing what we have evoled to do.

Also, not all meat comes from factorys, a huge amount does and thats really bad but i know our family buys all organic meat, which is better for the enviorment.

There should be less meat factorys, i agree with that for sure, more organic is good but if people took the step to eat better meat then to give it up entierly i believe that is a more reasonable.

Meat also provides protiene, which we need to survive, and yes i know that you can get protiene from other things as well but meat is a large factor in that.

in responce to LINDZ, with the fish thing? there are fish farms. i don't know too much about them or there effect bu i know they exist. 


LINDZ BRONZE said...
on Apr. 16 2011 at 1:27 pm
LINDZ BRONZE, Tucson, Arizona
4 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Agreed. I also think evolutionarily and nutritionally speaking, humans need some meat in their diet in order to get enough protein. The protein in plants is just not enough for human needs.

I wonder if fish causes as much pollution. I think fish is one of the great ways to go because humans generally are better off eating fish, and I've never heard anything bad about fish farming or fish catching.  But I've never done research on it either. Anybody know anything about it?


lmd_4994 GOLD said...
on Apr. 8 2011 at 11:59 am
lmd_4994 GOLD, Union Grove, Alabama
13 articles 0 photos 34 comments

Favorite Quote:
"May you live every day of your life" - Jonathan Swift

great job! i am not allowed to be a vegatarian until i move out but i am planning on it then :)

on Apr. 4 2011 at 10:33 am
The.King SILVER, Golden, Colorado
9 articles 1 photo 70 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A story's beginning is a sudden event. The start, a happy accident; the end, the fate for which it's meant. A story that never ends is a sad fate."-Miss Edel

Im curious (and please notice, I'm not bashing either you or the artical) where you got two facts in particular.

 

The first is the "one quarter pound hamburger requires the clearing of... 100 insect species."

 

The other is "one quarter pound hamburger requires the clearing of six yards of rainforrest."

 

The two in particular caught my attention.  I did the calculations (pretty easy, it took me about 10 minutes) and found both the be inaccurate.


on Mar. 31 2011 at 5:44 pm
Vidushi Sharma BRONZE, Secaucus, New Jersey
2 articles 2 photos 4 comments

I appreciate your feedback, guys, and I agree that no one should take facts at face value. Here are some sources for the information I used.

2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture report: Meat produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, ships, planes, and trucks in the world combined.

Greenpeace: nearly 80 percent of deforested areas in Brazil are now used for pasture by massive cattle ranching businesses.

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.

Worldwatch: 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.

USDA: 98 percent of the soy beans grown in the world are fed to animals as cheap base feed.


on Mar. 28 2011 at 1:43 pm
Morgan Cannon BRONZE, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments
We should definitely monitor our meat consumption and also the distrubition and killing of the live-stock. However, as previously said, abstaining from eating meat overall would, yes, in fact HURT the enviorment as a whole. We do breed animals in a larger amount than normally found in nature to meet our high consumer demands. However, if we...for say let all these animals go and everyone converted to vegan (because as you know vegitarians eat eggs and dairy produts) there would be an over population of these animals. They would also invade upon habitat already aquired by other species. So, if anything I feel as if we need to focus our time and energy on being more efficent and humane with the exacution of live stock, not ending it all together

Jamamama said...
on Mar. 24 2011 at 11:21 am
I was very intereseted in this article. I thought it was really interesting how "Just one quater-pounder hamburger requires the clearing of a six yard rainforest.." that part really shocked me! This has made me really consider the next burger i'm about to eat.

on Mar. 22 2011 at 6:48 pm
The.King SILVER, Golden, Colorado
9 articles 1 photo 70 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A story's beginning is a sudden event. The start, a happy accident; the end, the fate for which it's meant. A story that never ends is a sad fate."-Miss Edel

On the contrary, the readers here SHOULD be critical of what they are reading. Constructive criticism is always helpful, and I HOPE that people read my writing point out inaccuracies so I can improve both my writing and my argument.

 

Now, read my post, then do your own math. I did the math myself and found that many "facts" in this article were simply ridiculous, and make no logical or mathematical sense.

 

What IS arrogant is taking the "facts" of this article at face value, without doing any critical thinking or respectable research. You should follow your own advice and "get your head out of the clouds," because if you really believe a single hamburger kills 100 insect species and clears six yards of rainforrest, you are sorely mislead.


on Mar. 21 2011 at 7:45 pm
SecretBliss BRONZE, Paterson, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 5 comments

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The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

i agree with you completly!

on Mar. 21 2011 at 7:44 pm
SecretBliss BRONZE, Paterson, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

I understand that meat industries are harming the envirionment but i see no effort to promote beter conditions, humans need a wide veriety of food to survive...(not a vegeterian...eat meat).

on Mar. 18 2011 at 8:26 am
Pageasaurus_Rex SILVER, Mitchell, South Dakota
9 articles 4 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”- Albert Einstein
“We like to kidnap them in a van, and leave them somewhere dangerous. SURPRISE!”-Gerard Way

To those of you who think these are fake facts, STFU! Its not only rude, you look like an arrogant idiot. Like, seriously! Show some curtiousy and shut your mouth when it is needed! I'm a vegetarian and I think vegetarians and vegans aren't nearly as egotistical as your meat heads. I am not one to have an outburst like this but I'm sick of people who eat meat being full of themselves. Get your head out of the clouds and look at reality!

on Mar. 3 2011 at 1:44 pm
Isaac Valdovino BRONZE, Carrollton, Texas
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment
LOL nice fake facts , get em straight. How did this get in the magazine even?

on Feb. 28 2011 at 1:05 pm
emoducks BRONZE, Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life will only be amazing if you make it that way."
-Me (:

Exactly.  If he didn't want them to be eaten, then he wouldn't have put them here

on Feb. 4 2011 at 1:00 pm
emoducks BRONZE, Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life will only be amazing if you make it that way."
-Me (:

I agree with sagee on this one.  You would be hurting the environment more by not eating meat... I don't understand how just eating meat could take all of that land away... I mean GEEZE! That's just crazy talk right there.... 

But, I do think that some farms and factories take the whole "O we need money thing" way to far.  I watched a movie on how some of these big companies have farms that treat the animals just awful! After watching that, I took more consideration for my meat, but I do still eat it.  We can't just stop meat consumption all together, and you guys should really stop telling people what to eat.  You shouldn't judge people on what they eat.  I bet a lot of you vegetarians out there have eaten meat without even noticing... I give you guys props for stepping away from meat, but I also think that you should respect other peoples' decisions...


on Jan. 21 2011 at 10:39 pm
The.King SILVER, Golden, Colorado
9 articles 1 photo 70 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A story's beginning is a sudden event. The start, a happy accident; the end, the fate for which it's meant. A story that never ends is a sad fate."-Miss Edel

It does matter, it casts doubt on the accuracy if many of the other statements made in the article. For example she states that world hunger could be relieved by going vegetarian. Many do not realize that the world currently OVER-produces food, that food is just unevenly distributed. Additionally, her "1 hamburger destroys 6 yds of rainforrest" statistic is also way off, casting further doubt on the piece

on Jan. 20 2011 at 9:07 pm
suhaunah713 BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

it doesnt matter, she's right about it in general. if you don't feel like helping the earth out a little bit, that's alright with me, but the least you could do is accept the reality.

on Jan. 19 2011 at 9:33 pm
Ironwoman BRONZE, Fremont, Ohio
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

In my opinion as a person who not only works on a cattle farm, but believes profoundly in eating beef that your writing doesn't hold all the facts.

       How can you blame livestock for pollution when in response to using fuel it uses more to till crop and harvest then to raise a dairy cow. If we had no cows we'd have a more limited diet in calcuim which is important for bone health.

      Besides just cause you eat vegetables does not mean your any healthier or saving the enviroment everyone needs to do thier part.


on Jan. 16 2011 at 10:35 pm
WithPenAndScript DIAMOND, Venetia, Pennsylvania
72 articles 232 photos 252 comments

Favorite Quote:
I believe that no matter who you are we all leave footprints on this Earth

Hahah how is this a top rated article? 

Meat bashers, Tut tut. 

At least get the facts srtaight


on Jan. 13 2011 at 1:22 pm
KunaiNinjaFighter SILVER, Monticello, Arkansas
7 articles 0 photos 67 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Think left and thing right, Think low and Think High, Oh the thinks you can think up, if only you try!" Dr. Suess oh and "Two things are infinite: The Universe and Human Stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.'- Albert Einstein

I understand that, but I don't think that there are enough benefits to go veg. I respect their choices, but I dont have to think that it's right.


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