Why vegan? Why plant based?

 


The Environment

The intensive confinement operations of factory farms and the rise in demand for cheap meat and other animal products have created a number of growing problems for the environment, including the issues of water consumption, green house gas emissions, ground water contamination, and the destruction of vital rainforests. 

Environmental groups like The Audubon Society and The Sierra Club, along with the Nobel Prize winning chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, are focusing on these problems and encouraging plant-based diets as a way to prevent further environmental damage.

Below are some facts and citations. Many are cited from John Robbins' book “The Food Revolution.” (Page numbers are provided for reference.)

RAINFOREST DESTRUCTION

Tropical rainforests contain 80 per cent of the world's species of land vegetation and account for much of the global oxygen supply. In one square mile of Amazon rainforest, there are more species of birds than exist in all of North America.

Two thirds of Central America's rainforests have been cleared primarily to raise cattle whose stringy, cheap meat is exported to profit the u.s. food industry. When it enters the United States, the beef is not labeled with its country of origin, so there is no way to trace it to its sources. (pg. 256-257)

WATER POLLUTION

  • Gallons of oil spilled by the Exxon-Valdez: 12 million
  • Gallons of putrefying hog urine and feces spilled into the New River in North Carolina on June 21, 1995, when a "lagoon" holding 8 acres of hog excrement burst: 25 million (pg. 242)
  • Amount of waste produced by the 1,600 dairies in California's Central Valley: more than the entire human population of Texas.
  • Total number of water quality inspectors in California's entire Central Valley: 4
  • "Dairies are the single largest source of water pollution...Our volunteers frequently encounter massive discharges of dairy waste that literally cauterize waterways and kill fish...We're in the process of losing one of the most marvelous and diverse aquatic ecosystems in the world." -Deltakeeper, an environmental group that monitors California's waterways. (pg. 246-247)

AIR POLLUTION AND GREENHOUSE GASSES

  • "Livestock account for 15-20% of (overall) global methane emmissions."
  • "American feed (for livestock) takes so much energy to grow that it might as well be a petroleum byproduct." World Watch Institute (referenced on pg. 267)
  • "Alternative [plant-based] diets could, if widely adopted, reduce global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, reduce land clearing and resultant species extinctions, and help prevent such diet-related chronic non-communicable diseases" -.¬†From a report in the journal Nature with data from scientists at the University of Minnesota. (Read Time Magazine's piece on this report.)

WATER CONSUMPTION

Scientists at the Stockholm International Water Institute announced that "there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expeted 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations." Their 2012 report states that the world's population will have to move toward a vegetarian diet to help accommodate the planet's "considerable water deficits."

Since beef requires the burning of 54 fossil fuel calories for the production of a calorie of protein, and soybeans require only two, people deriving their protein from soybeans are, in effect, consuming only 4 percent as much energy- and producing only 4 percent as much carbon dioxide- as people deriving their protein from beef. (pg. 266)


For more information:

  • The Sierra Club devotes serious attention to factory farming: "Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are a major polluter of America's waterways and a major cause of air pollution in rural communities." It issued a report in 2002 called "The RapSheet on Animal Factories: Environmental violations by the meat industry add up to a rap sheet longer than War and Peace."
  • The WorldWatch Institute also focuses on animal factories. "Like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet," write the editors of WorldWatch Magazine.
  • "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins

 

 
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