Why go vegetarian?

Meat-eating has been proven to have a far-reaching negative impact on the environment. Since 1967, the rate of deforestation in the U. S. has been one acre every five seconds — the equivalent of one football field per second. Economists estimate that for every person who switches to a vegan diet, an acre of trees is spared each year. Most people know that the rainforests are being depleted for the production of food, however what is not generally known is that the food being produced is not directly for people.

The rain forests are actually being destroyed to create grazing land for beef cattle so a continuous supply of inexpensive meat will flow into the country for our fast-food restaurants. It is estimated that at the present rate, many of the rainforests will be gone in 30 years — a natural resource on which we rely for everything from life-saving medicines to the very air we breathe. This harsh reality has been obscured for years in a confusing smokescreen of environmental debate and industry interests.

In addition to the loss of the rain forests, however, farming for meat production creates a huge amount of pollution and waste, while inefficiently consuming an inordinate amount of energy and resources for only a small return (See Diet for a New America by John Robbins and Your Heart, Your Planet by Harvey Diamond. ) Here are some sobering facts: • Livestock produces 7 trillion tons of manure every year, and it all finds its way into our water systems. • 60% of all water used in America is used for meat production.

• 60 million pounds of antibiotics per year are fed to livestock; the feed given to livestock is sprayed with extra pesticides. • Of toxic chemical residues found in food consumed by Americans, less than 10% comes from fruit, vegetables, and grain. Over 90% comes from animal products. • When you eat meat, you take in the livestock antibiotics, which diminishes the effectiveness of the antibiotics used to treat human illness. • When you eat meat, you take in growth hormones. Statistics show that prior to the turn of the century, American girls reached puberty on the average of age 17; today, menarche is appearing in girls as young as 8.

For how vocal the meat industry has become as consumption falls, they are mute about how much beef is imported by American fast-food companies from certain developing countries. Countries such as Ethiopia and certain Central American nations use their precious farmland to supply America with cheap burgers, instead of growing healthful grains for their own starving people. • It takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat • Yet, 16 people could be fed on the grain it takes to feed one person that pound of meat.

• The livestock population of the U. S. consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times its human population. • Producing that amount of grain only requires 250 gallons of water. Every two seconds a human child starves to death • 90% of all corn grown in the U. S. goes to livestock; 80% of all grains and beans go to feed these animals. • Food grown directly for human consumption utilizes 60 million acres;1. 2 billion acres are used to grow what is fed to livestock A healthier diet is inevitable in developed, post-consumerism countries in the new millennium.

As people everywhere wake up to the realities of our unwise dietary habits of the past. http://www. un. org/apps/news/story. asp? NewsID=20772&Cr=global&Cr1=environment UN News Center Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns 29 November 2006 – Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, and smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, are urgently needed, according to a new United Nations report released today.

“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said. “Urgent action is required to remedy the situation. ” Cattle-rearing is also a major source of land and water degradation, according to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options, of which Mr. Steinfeld is the senior author. “The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level,” it warns.

When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure. And it accounts for respectively 37 per cent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64 per cent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year, the report notes. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes. The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1. 3 billion people and contributes about 40 per cent to global agricultural output.

For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops. Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 per cent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.

At the same time herds cause wide-scale land degradation, with about 20 per cent of pastures considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. This figure is even higher in the drylands where inappropriate policies and inadequate livestock management contribute to advancing desertification. The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.

Beyond improving animal diets, proposed remedies to the multiple problems include soil conservation methods together with controlled livestock exclusion from sensitive areas; setting up biogas plant initiatives to recycle manure; improving efficiency of irrigation systems; and introducing full-cost pricing for water together with taxes to discourage large-scale livestock concentration close to cities. http://www. huffingtonpost. com/bruce-friedrich/britains-environment-age_b_53454. html The Huffington Post Bruce Friedrich Britain’s Environment Agency: Go Vegetarian to Stop Climate Change

I’m tempted to move to Britain, and not just because I saw an early screening of Michael Moore’s amazing new movie, Sicko (go see it; tell all your friends). What got me is that an official with the UK’s Environment Agency has acknowledged that humans can significantly help stop global warming by adopting a vegetarian diet. • Of course, the science could not be more clear. When U. N. scientists looked at all the evidence, they declared in a 408-page report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow that raising animals for food is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all vehicles in the world combined.

And scientists at the University of Chicago showed that a typical American meat-eater is responsible for nearly 1. 5 tons more carbon dioxide a year than a vegan. But for someone in government to admit this is something special, since even Al Gore refuses to talk about it (which makes me think that perhaps he is planning to run). What happened is that someone posted a comment on the Environment Agency’s Web site asking, “Adopting a vegan diet reduces one person’s impact on the environment even more than giving up their car or forgoing several plane trips a year!

Why aren’t you promoting this message as part of your [World Environment Day] campaign? ” In response, an Environment Agency official wrote that the “potential benefit of a vegan diet in terms of climate impact could be very significant” and offered assurances that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is working on a set of “key environmental behaviour changes” to mitigate climate change — including promoting vegetarianism. Indeed, study after study has shown that animal agriculture contributes to global warming and environmental destruction, yet instead of urging people to go vegetarian, most U.

S. politicians and environmental spokespeople just continue to hype hybrid cars, recycling, and fluorescent light bulbs as solutions to our spiraling environmental problems. This is just not good enough. Vegetarians in Hummers do more for the planet than do meat-eaters who cruise around in hybrids or collect recyclable soda cans. Now that George Bush has finally acknowledged that global warming is a reality, perhaps he could follow his vegetarian niece, Lauren Bush — and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton — in adopting a vegetarian diet.

I’m not going to hold my breath until this happens, but it would be gratifying for representatives of the U. S. government to acknowledge the absolute fact that what people eat is more important than what they drive. Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t our only environmental concern, of course. There’s deforestation, water and air pollution, world hunger, and more. According to Greenpeace, chickens raised for KFC and other companies that “produce” chicken flesh are fed crops that are grown in the Amazon rain forest. And according to the U.

N. report, raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. ” To whit, more than 260 million acres of U. S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals; farmed animals are fed more than 70 percent of the corn, wheat, and other grains grown in the U. S. ; and almost half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the U. S. are used to raise animals for food.

There is also the unappetizing synopsis by Scripps Howard of a Senate Agricultural Committee report on animal waste and the environment: “[I]t’s untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and diseased. … It goes onto the soil and into the water that many people will, ultimately, bathe in and wash their clothes with and drink. It is poisoning rivers and killing fish and making people sick. … Catastrophic cases of pollution, sickness, and death are occurring in areas where livestock operations are concentrated.

… Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick. ” If that’s not enough to make you feel a little queasy, consider this: Consuming animal products isn’t just making the environment sick — it’s making us sick too. Meat, eggs, and dairy foods are high in cholesterol, saturated fat, calories, and concentrated protein. Animal products are known to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, obesity, and other debilitating diseases.

And don’t forget that more than 10 billion animals are killed each year in the U. S. alone to feed our meat addictions. We’re talking about an awful lot of suffering. And for what? Chicken nuggets, hamburgers, hot dogs, cheese pizza, scrambled eggs, and other foods that have healthy, humane, and environmentally friendly counterparts. I can’t imagine why anyone would cause such suffering and devastation when there is a better option: a vegetarian diet. Why not give it a try?

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David from Healtheappointments:

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