With all the current focus on the health of the environment, it seems natural to ask how our diets and food choices are affecting the environment. The short answer is that yes, vegetarianism is good for the environment, and this is why. In Britain, an average person will consume 11,000 animals or more in their lifetime. Each one of those animals requires a vast amount of water, food, land and fuel to get to your plate. The sheer quantity of waste that is caused by this process is staggering, and this is just for one person. Imagine the waste produced by a whole house, a whole street, or a whole neighborhood of meat eaters.
With growing concern about the environment and about what we can do to slow down environmental change, the answer is quite simple. Eat less meat or even better, stop eating meat at all. Simply put, forests and other natural resources are being cleared to make space for farming, and this cannot continue. On the other side of the debate are those who simply do not have enough food to survive. Why are we dedicating our resources to animal farming when we should be concerned about feeding the population in the best way possible for the environment?
Good for the Environment, Good for Us
Here are some reasons why vegetarianism is not only good for the environment, but also good for you.
The planet is overheating; climate change is an immediate and critical concern. Yet the major animals that we farm and eat, pigs, chickens, cows and sheep, all require huge quantities of food, water and land to farm – and they give off methane, greenhouse gases and produce disgusting amounts of actual waste. The exact damage that this kind of farming is doing to the environment is not clear – we know that the emissions by farmed animals sit at about 18% of the world total. This takes into account all the emissions produced from farm to table, and it is actually more than is given off by all forms of transport put together. Basically, livestock farming is one of three major contributing sources to the degradation of the environment and the rise in harmful emissions.
Land is another issue. Other that the harmful emissions that are given off by extensive livestock farming, it is also eating up available land. The human population of the planet is increasing, which means that we will need more and more space, not less. The space that is needed for vegetable farming is much less than the space that is needed for livestock farming – logically this means that we should eat less meat and more vegetables. About 30% of the planet, that is free of ice, is now used for livestock farming. Livestock farms consume a huge amount of grain, yet there are over a billion people who are starving.
Other than climate devastation, and taking up too much land, livestock farming also takes up another of our precious resources – water. The quantity of water that is needed to get one animal from the farm to the table is ridiculous; it takes almost 1000 liters just to get a liter of milk. This is simply unsustainable, and the human population is going to need more water, not less.
Deforestation is another consequence of our over-consumption of meat. Forested areas are being and have been cleared to make space for more livestock farming. This leads to the erosion of good soil, flooding and more carbon dioxide in the air. In addition the waste that is produced by the livestock, or rather the quantity of waste produced by livestock is in fact poisoning the planet. The waste is funneled into cesspools which often leak, break or overflow causing the poisonous waste to drain into the soil and the ground water.
There are many more reasons why being a vegetarian is better for the environment than eating meat. The damage caused by livestock farming is undeniable; all we can do now is try to mitigate that damage as best as we can. It is essential that we all realize that resources of all kinds are only becoming more scarce and we need to protect what we do have left on this planet of ours.
Nick Anderson is a writer for How2become; a leading career and recruitment specialist. How2become currently offers over 150 different titles across a wide range of careers providing insider information to help you prepare effectively. You can also connect with How2become on Facebook.