Becoming vegetarian is one of the most important and effective actions you can take to ease the strain on our Earth’s limited resources, protect the planet from pollution, prevent global warming, and save countless species from extinction.
According to Dr. David Brubaker, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, “The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.”
As the Sierra Club put it in their 2002 report on animal factories, “environmental violations by the meat industry add up to a rap sheet longer than War and Peace.”
According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, animal protein demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energy—-about eight times as much for a comparable amount of plant protein.
The meat industry is a major cause of fresh water depletion. According to Ed Ayres, of the World Watch Institute, “Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry. India, China, North Africa and the U.S. are all running freshwater deficits, pumping more from their aquifers than rain can replenish.”
The great Ogallala aquifer, a resource that took a half million years to accumulate, will be depleted in less than 40 years.
According to Ayres, “Pass up one hamburger, and you’ll save as much water as you save by taking 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle.”
EXTINCTION IS FOREVER
In the United States, grazing has contributed to the demise of 26% of federal threatened and endangered species.
In The Western Range Revisited, a 1999 book published by the University of Oklahoma, author Debra L. Donahue writes, “Grazing’s ecological impacts are more widespread than those of any other human activity in the West, and elimination of grazing holds greater potential for benefiting biodiversity than any other single land use measure.”
The situation is no better in South America where the rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate in order to clear the land for cattle grazing.
According to the United Nations, ranching-induced deforestation is one of the main reasons for the loss of plant and animal species in tropical rainforests.
It is estimated that for each hamburger made from rainforest beef, members of life forms from approximately 20 to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species, and dozens of bird, mammals, and reptile species are destroyed.
A U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee report concluded, “The threat of pollution from intensive livestock and poultry farms is a national problem.”
According to the EPA, over 200 manure discharges and spills from U.S. animal farms between 1990 and 1997 have killed more than a billion fish. Animal feedlots can contaminate nearby well water with high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to miscarriages in humans as well as “blue baby” syndrome in infants.
Manure lagoons and spray fields from animal agriculture also pollute the air by emitting ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide.
According to a May 2003 article in the New York Times, “Around industrial hog farms across the country, people say their sickness rolls in with the wind. It brings headaches that do not go away and trips to the emergency room for children whose lungs suddenly close up. People young and old have become familiar with inhalers, nebulizers and oxygen tanks. They complain of diarrhea, nosebleeds, earaches and lung burns.”
(The article goes on to describe how air pollution from hog farms appears to have caused permanent brain damage in nearby residents)
And that is just the beginning…