What damage does animal husbandry cause to our planet?
If researchers asked for it, and they reached a fairly clear conclusion: without the consumption of meat and dairy products, the lands used to breed and kill animals would decrease by more than 75%, an area as big as the United States, China, Europe and Australia together.
Do you know in which newspaper it has been published? In Science, so we already cut various detractors on predatory magazines and such things.
Are you sure that overpopulation is such a serious problem if you look at it from this perspective?
Just think about how much more space there would be, how many more resources, both human and economic, could be used in so many other ways! Intensive livestock farming is largely responsible for the extinction of wild animals, as more and more areas are being cleared to make room for livestock farming.
This study showed that although meat and dairy products simply provide 18% of calories and 37% of protein, these two products use 83% of the land used for agriculture and produce 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions relatively to this sector. Other recent research shows that 86% of all terrestrial mammals are either humans or intensive farm animals.
If that’s not enough, think that even the minimum, the minimum, consumption of meat and dairy products produces more environmental damage than consumption of the worst, related to the consumption of water and soil, vegetables and cereals
As you can see, the study took in analysis several factors, air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas, land use and more. It was based on a study of about 40,000 farms in 119 countries, analyzing the 40 most eaten foods in the world. Let’s see a little better what the researchers have analyzed and what their reflections have been.
Research team led by Joseph Poore, Oxford environmental researcher
“The reason I started this project was to understand if there are any farms that produce food of animal origin in a sustainable way. And during this project that lasted for 4 years, I also stopped eating animal products. These are not necessary for our modern way of life, the question we can ask ourselves is how we can reduce this waste of resources? Plant nutrition is probably the best way to reduce our impact on planet Earth, and I am not just talking about greenhouse gases, but also about land use, soil acidification, water use! This is something much bigger than buying an electric car for example, because agriculture is a sector that can affect all environmental problems. It really is food of animal origin that is responsible for this on a large scale. Avoiding the consumption of animal products has a greater environmental benefit than trying to buy sustainable dairy products and meats. The huge variables that can be there from farm to farm, however, present an opportunity to reduce this damage, so it is not that we are telling the global population to become vegan. If, for example, the less sustainable farms, let’s say half of the worst ones, were replaced by farms that produce vegetable food, this would lead to an improvement that would reach 2/3 of what would be done if, on the other hand, we were to definitively remove meat and dairy products! There are thousands and thousands of farms that need to improve their environmental impact, and it is not easy. We can talk about a challenge for agriculture, which is the most difficult of all sectors! A great deal of money is invested in subsidies, around USD 500 billion a year, and with that money we could really do good things. For example, starting with labels, which could reveal the environmental impact for the production of that individual product, so as to allow the consumer to choose what has been less âheavyâ for the environment and would be a good start. Another thing that could be done is to give more subsidies to companies that produce vegetable food and to tax those who produce meat and dairy products more.
A surprise that we found during this project is the enormous impact of fresh farmed fish, from which 2/3 of the fish arrive in Asia, while for Europe as much as 96%. And it was thought to be relatively “enviromental friendly”, but instead it is enough to think of where they are crammed into the farms, and it is the perfect area for the production of methane.
Another surprise was that of the grass-fed beef, because it was thought that extensive breeding was of little impact, but instead it was found to be much more negative for the environment than vegetable foods. Because converting grass into meat is like converting coal into energy, there is one more step and this results in a huge expense in emissions.
Geophysicist Gidon Eshel, professor at Bard College in the U.S., an expert in environmental physics, said, “I’m amazed, it’s an important study, ambitious, revealing and well designed. Previous studies on the subject used a top-down approach, this one being bottom-up, having individual data from each company, and presenting results that are deeply revealing“.
Tim Benton, professor at the University of Leeds: “This study is immensely useful, because it brings together a large amount of data which makes its conclusion much more robust. The way we produce, consume and waste food is not sustainable from a planet Earth perspective. Considering the global obesity epidemic, a change in diet with more vegetables and fruit on our plate, has the chance to make both us and our planet healthier.
To conclude, let us repeat once again that the facts speak clearly, from whatever perspective you want to look at it: health, environmental and economic sustainability, which make violence against other sentient beings even more unjustified.
What is it that saddens? The fact that economically, environmentally, socially and healthally valid reasons are overshadowed by a question of taste. Is eating that slice of meat worth more than the suffering that that animal has suffered, the antibiotics that it has taken, the stress that it has suffered from the first to the last day of its life, the plants that could go directly to us, the water and the land saved, the dozens and dozens of species that are extinct because of this wild race to the farm? Really?
No one forces anyone to become vegan, just become aware of our impact on this planet, remember every day that we are guests and not masters, that are the choices we make every day to have value, and the rest will come by itself