Despite a shift toward higher poultry consumption, red meat still represents the largest proportion of meat consumed in the U.
But like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet. Whether you eat meat or not or how much is a private matter, they might say.
Yes, there have been those reports of tropical forest being cut down to accommodate cattle ranchers, and native grassland being destroyed by grazing.
But at least until recently, few environmentalists have suggested that meat-eating belongs on the same scale of importance as the kinds of issues that have energized Amazon Watch, or Conservation International, or Greenpeace.
Yet, as environmental science has advanced, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future—deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.
How did such a seemingly small matter of individual consumption move so rapidly from the margins of discussion about sustainability to the center? To begin with, per-capita meat consumption has more than doubled in the past half-century, even as global population has continued to increase.
As a result, the overall demand for meat has increased five-fold. That, in turn, has put escalating pressure on the availability of water, land, feed, fertilizer, fuel, waste disposal capacity, and most of the other limited resources of the planet.
To provide an overview of just how central a challenge this once marginal issue has become, we decided to survey the relevance of meat-eating to each of the major categories of environmental impact that have conventionally been regarded as critical to the sustainability of civilization.
A brief summary observation for each category is accompanied by quotes from a range of prominent observers, some of whom offer suggestions about how this difficult subject—not everyone who likes pork chops or ribs is going to switch to tofu without a fight—can be addressed.
Deforestation was the first major type of environmental damage caused by the rise of civilization. Large swaths of forest were cleared for agriculture, which included domestication of both edible plants and animals.
Inhowever, the World Hunger Program at Brown University calculated that recent world harvests, if equitably distributed with no diversion of grain to feeding livestock, could provide a vegetarian diet to 6 billion people, whereas a meat-rich diet like that of people in the wealthier nations could support only 2.
In other words, with a present population over 6 billion, that would mean we are already into deficit consumption of land, with the deficit being made up by hauling more fish from the oceans, which are in turn being rapidly fished out.
In Central America, 40 percent of all the rainforests have been cleared or burned down in the last 40 years, mostly for cattle pasture to feed the export market—often for U.
Meat is too expensive for the poor in these beef-exporting countries, yet in some cases cattle have ousted highly productive traditional agriculture. Antelopes, unlike cattle, are adapted to semi-arid lands. They do not need to trek daily to waterholes and so cause less trampling and soil compaction….
Antelope dung comes in the form of small, dry pellets, which retain their nitrogen and efficiently fertilize the soil.
Cows, in contrast, produce large, flat, wet droppings, which heat up and quickly lose much of their nitrogen in the form of ammonia to the atmosphere…. An experimental game ranch in Kenya has been a great economic success while simultaneously restoring the range.
Ehrlich, and Gretchen C.
But a few years ago, water experts calculated that we humans are now taking half the available fresh water on the planet—leaving the other half to be divided among a million or more species.
Since we depend on many of those species for our own survival they provide all the food we eat and oxygen we breathe, among other servicesthat hogging of water poses a dilemma. If we break it down, species by species, we find that the heaviest water use is by the animals we raise for meat.
One of the easiest ways to reduce demand for water is to reduce the amount of meat we eat. A person on a vegan diet requires only gallons a day. The report notes that it takes liters of water to produce enough flour for one loaf of bread in developing countries…but up to 7, liters of water to produce grams of beef.
You would use, at that rate, [5,] gallons of water to shower every day for a year.
When you compare that figure, [5,] gallons of water, to the amount the Water Education Foundation calculates is used in the production of every pound of California beef 2, gallons ,you realize something extraordinary.
In California today, you may save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you would by not showering for six entire months. There were always new places to dump, and for centuries most of what was dumped either conveniently decomposed or disappeared from sight. But today, the waste from our gargantuan factory farms overwhelms the absorptive capacity of the planet.
The easiest way to reduce the amount of excrement flowing down the Mississippi and killing the Gulf of Mexico is to eat less meat, thereby reducing the size of the herds upstream in Iowa or Missouri.
Giant livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of waste. Environmental Protection Agency, livestock waste has polluted more than 27, miles of rivers and contaminated groundwater in dozens of states.
The dead zone stretched over 7, square miles during the summer of But as we give more attention to life-cycle analysis of the things we buy, it becomes apparent that the journey that steak made to get to your refrigerator consumed staggering amounts of energy along the way.
We can begin the cycle with growing the grain to feed the cattle, which requires a heavy input of petroleum- based agricultural chemicals.1/ Includes beef, pork, veal, and mutton/lamb, but excludes edible offals. 2/ Estimated by USDA Note: All poultry and livestock products are on a retail weight basis, except “other chicken” and “turkey” which are reported by USDA on a carcass-weight basis.
Now, It’s Not Personal! But like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet.
Ask people where they’d rank meat-eating as an issue of concern to the general public, and most might be surprised to hear you suggest that it’s an issue at all. Whether you eat meat or. This map shows current worldwide annual Meat Consumption per capita.
World average meat consumption: kg per person per year. Much of the world views dogs as trusted companions or protectors, but in some parts of Asia, they suffer as victims of the trade in dog meat for human consumption.
CHAPTER 16 PREPARATIONS OF MEAT, OF FISH OR OF CRUSTACEANS, MOLLUSCS OR OTHER AQUATIC INVERTEBRATES IV Notes 1. This chapter does not cover meat, meat offal, fish, crustaceans, molluscs or other aquatic invertebrates, prepared or preserved. Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times.
The advent of civilization allowed the domestication of animals such as chickens, sheep, rabbits, pigs and cattle.