The meat industry largely contributes to climate change. It affects air and water quality, ocean health, and greenhouse gas emissions. Beef production, specifically, creates “28, 11, 5, and 6 times more land, irrigation water, greenhouse gases, and nitrogen, respectively, than the average of the other livestock categories” according to PNAS. Not only does the meat industry have a well established carbon footprint, it uses a catastrophic amount of water. More than 2,4000 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of meat. For perspective, only 25 gallons are needed to produce a pound of wheat. According to PETA (calm down anti-vegetarian people, it’s just an organization), you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months.
The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all planes, cars, ships, and trains combined. A report from Our World by the United Nations University states that twice as many people believe transportation to be the bigger contributor to global warming, though we see that’s not true. The report’s lead author believes “tackling meat and dairy consumption” is dependent on preventing catastrophic warming.
The argument of animal abuse as support for vegetarianism/veganism doesn’t reach many people, but it reaches me, and is something I feel absolutely necessary to include. “Factory farming” is a term used to describe intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production. The goal of factory farms is to maximize production and minimize cost, at the expense of the livestock. They’re squeezed into cages and boxes so small they can’t move, are fed antibiotics to make them grow faster and be kept alive in unsanitary conditions, and usually face a cruel death while completely conscious. In the dairy industry, female cows are artificially inseminated and separated from their calves at birth. The second they stop producing milk, they’re inseminated again. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you don’t care about the environment and our only planet, or animal rights, then hopefully you care about yourself. A plant based diet, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center, has consistently proven over two decades that it reduces your risk for cancer. It’s important to note a “plant-based diet” doesn’t remove meat completely, but is focused around vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. This type of diet also supports your immune system, reduces inflammation, and can help you maintain a healthy weight. So, for anyone who is hesitant to completely cut out meat, this diet is still helpful to the environment because it calls for less meat consumption, but it’s also helping you.
As for dairy, it’s one of the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. An analysis published by the British Medical Journal found that most studies do not show any relationship between dairy intake and broken bones or fractures. Dairy consumption is also linked to lung, breast, and ovarian cancers.
I could speak a lot more on this topic, but I want to keep it short because I’m sure I got a lot of eyerolls. Moral of the story: the meat, livestock, and dairy industries are contributing to killing our planet. Meat is not necessary for a healthy human diet– there is protein in foods like quinoa, tofu, beans and legumes, vegetable, nuts, and so much more; and you definitely don’t need need to be drinking another animal’s milk.
I highly recommend documentary What the Health on Netflix. It digs into the relationship between diet and health and could be the inspiration you need to begin a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet. Try cutting out an animal product one at a time or eat less of it– it all helps. And lastly, don’t hate on other people for their diet, whether it includes animal products or not. You’re only responsible for your actions, and I can guarantee unsolicited advice isn’t helpful. Love our planet!
I like this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxvQPzrg2Wg&t=185s