When it comes to what we eat, sometimes we have to take more into consideration than just our cravings and personal preferences. It is not just about eating to feed yourself or your family, it is about eating to thrive, and to guarantee the same opportunity for our planet and the generations that are yet to come.
We have already done so much damage. So so much. It is almost unbearable to think about how far our destruction has come without being slowed or stopped. It can be difficult to go back and undue the wrong-doing when we are the ones inflicting all of this irreversible damage. We must focus on our energy on being proactive and learn to make more conscious dietary and life changes immediately. Or else we're hurting ourselves, and everyone else who we are fortunate enough to share this earth with. Seriously, everyone else.
I am not a vegan solely because I am an animal right's activist. I am not a vegan only because I refuse to incorporate chemically ridden and artificially made foods and beverages into my diet and life. I am not a vegan because I support environmental conservation and our ability to cease deforestation. I am a vegan because I am an animal right's activist, a supporter of natural foods and an environmentalist. I am a plant based vegan for all reasons humane, thoughtful, healthful and proactive. In today's world, threatened by violence, crime, hate, destruction and pollution, we need as many superheroes as we can get, and in my eye's that's exactly what I am working towards: Men, women and children who do as little harm and provide as much care and help to other beings in need (Including, but not limited to: people, animals and our planet.) In my eyes, each and everyone of us has a choice. Make your choice one that is well educated, compassionate, helpful and self-less.
THE DAMAGE DONE
Did you know that there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than there was at any point in the last 800,000 years? And although Americans make up just 4% of Earth's population, we produce 25% of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning. This makes up the largest share of any country, by far. This air pollution didn't just accumulate naturally, either. We're the ones who are being caught red handed for the crime that is global warming.
Our dramatically increasing population causes higher demands on natural resources, and increases the demand on our agriculture and livestock. There are so many negative impacts associated with our ongoing population explosion and increasing demand for resources. We are the consumers, and we are at fault entirely.
Because we require so much food to feed such a large quantity of people, we have found ways to "cheat" Mother Nature's natural cycle and create more goods, faster, easier and cheaper. Without taking any time to think about what effects these cheap/fast/easy procedures will have on our air, water and land. By using mass amounts of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides to increase food production, we are polluting the air, soil and water with toxic chemicals and additives. We are responsible for the large scale toxic algal blooms that kill millions of aquatic animals each and every year- caused entirely by fertilizer run off. To keep up with the high demand we have created, we must increase cultivation - of animal products, dairy products and genetically modified plant products. This leads to the removal of billions of trees and acres of other plants to increase growing space (as if something wasn't growing there already.) Removal of these natural plants causes habitat loss and threatens the survival of thousands of species of animals and plants. All because of us.
LARGE SCALE FARMING
Regardless of if you want to believe it or not, meat and dairy consumption has caused and created so much devastation on our planet. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the information. The livestock industry is destroying our planet. It is time we take a good hard look at the destruction that our dietary habits has created.
While doing research on the computer, I came across these ariel shots of commercial agriculture compounds here in the U.S. Although the meat and dairy industries wish they weren't, these photographs can be found publicly on web resources such as Google Earth. Misha Henner located the image shown below, and shared her findings with inhabitant.com.
She said “Massive waste lagoons, which waft up dangerous hydrogen sulfide fumes and can contaminate groundwater with nitrates and antibiotics, first resemble open, infected wounds. The land on which the feedlots sit is totally barren, brown and dry. Brightly colored waste from the poor animals housed there gives off an alien glow against the neutral backdrop of dying land. The cows themselves look like ants from the aerial perspective, crowded together with no shade or comfort from the harsh conditions."
Here is another image captured from Google Earth of a lagoon on a cattle feedlot in Dalhart, Texas. See all of those small black specs? Those are herds of cattle.
I read this article on www.Care2.com and found it to be interesting and well written. I want to share with you all some of the facts from their webpage with regards to the damage caused by the livestock industry. A diet consisting of meat and dairy is unsustainable in the long term. Read on and understand for yourself.
1. Deforestation – Farm animals require considerably more land than crops to produce a given amount of food energy. In Central America alone, 40 percent of all rainforests have been cleared in the last 40 years for cattle pasture to feed the export market, often for U.S. beef burgers. The World Hunger Program calculated that recent world harvests, if distributed equitably and fed directly to humans as opposed to livestock, could provide a vegan diet to 6 billion people.
2. Fresh Water – Without a doubt livestock has one of the largest water footprints on the planet. It may be hard to believe, but the standard American diet requires a whopping 4,200 gallons of water per day (including animals’ drinking water, irrigation of crops, processing, washing, etc.), whereas a vegan diet only requires 300. The easiest way to reduce demand for water is to eliminate the consumption of animal products.
3. Waste Disposal – Today’s factory farms house hundreds of thousands of cows, pigs and chickens and in turn produce astronomical amounts of waste. In the U.S. these giant livestock farms generate more than 130 times the amount of waste that humans do. This waste has polluted thousand of miles of rivers and contaminated groundwater, killing marine life and creating huge dead zones.
4. Energy Consumption – For that steak to end up on your plate it has to consume massive amounts of energy along the way. Growing the grain with a heavy use of agricultural chemicals to feed the cattle, transporting the cattle thousands of miles to slaughter and market, and then refrigerating and cooking the meat all amounts to an absurd use of resources. On average, it takes 28 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from meat, whereas it takes only 3.3 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from grain.
5. Food Productivity – The food productivity of farmland is quickly falling behind population growth, and the only option available to us short of stabilizing population is to cut back on meat consumption and convert grazing land to food crops. In the U.S. an estimated 56 million acres of land are producing hay for livestock, and only 4 million acres are used to grow vegetables for human consumption.
6. Global Warming – Global warming is driven by energy consumption, and as noted above livestock are energy guzzling, but that’s not all. Livestock also emit potent global warming gases into the environment. Cattle, in particular, produce a significant amount of methane. For example, a single dairy cow produces an average of 75 kilos of methane annually.
7. Loss of Biodiversity – Poaching and the black-marketeering of bushmeat is becoming a growing problem as our planet becomes more and more overcrowded and poorer populations venture into wildlife reserves to kill everything from elephants and chimpanzees to bonobos and birds. Hunters are using logging roads, which facilitate a more rapid invasion, that have been opened up by big multinational companies to poach every animal in sight to sell to people in the cities.
8. Grassland Destruction – As the herds of domesticated animals expanded, the environments on which wild animals such as bison and antelope used to thrive were replaced by monoculture grasslands to cater for large scale cattle grazing. Grassland has suffered such a massive lost. What was once a rich and diverse ecosystem is now is a single species monoculture.
9. Soil Erosion – With 60 percent of the United States’ pastureland being overgrazed, the acceleration of soil erosion and degradation of land is an increasing concern. It takes approximately 500 years to replace just one inch of precious topsoil. While fertilizers may be able to replace a small amount of nutrient loss, the large inputs of fossil energy to do so is completely unrealistic and unsustainable.
10. Lifestyle Disease – The excessive consumption of meat and dairy in developed countries combined with environmental pollution and lack of exercise is causing a wealth of preventable health problems such as heart disease. While western civilizations are dying from strokes, cancer, diabetes and heart attacks after gorging on meat, poor people in Third World countries are dying from disease brought on by being denied access to land to grow grain to feed their families.
OUR EVER-GROWING POPULATION
In today's world, we refer to our population growth as a "population threat," because thats exactly what it is - a threat. The current U.S. population is an estimated at over 285 million people and is expected to double in the next 70 years. As I mentioned above, Americans eat the most meat, by far when compared to all other continents in the world. Meaning our demand for meat and dairy is increasingly larger than any other. As if the toll that this type of agriculture has on our planet isn't bad enough, large scale farming of these animals also increases their susceptibility to numerous diseases (including Mad-cow disease and Avian flu.) The waste generated by these farms and meat processing plants is so large and constantly spreading. Our planet is exceptionally great at recycling natural waste, but we are creating far too much of it than it can handle. These high quantities of pollution impact our planet and all species who dwell on it. The negative effects of the meat and dairy industry combined with our growing population leads to an even greater stress being placed on our already limited natural resources.
And that's just the U.S. alone. According to a 2015 census, there are over 7.3 Billion people in the world. Regardless of the role that meat and dairy have on human nutrition or your personal morals (with regards to the right's of these billions of animals being killed for our consumption,) the consumption of animal products is a looming problem for all of humankind.
Live a life that is low impact, and reduce your use of this world’s precious resources. They will run out and be unavailable for our children, our children's children and the generations to come. Go plant based. For yourself, for the animals, for health and for our planet. Opt for animal free food and beverage choices. Please.