Home > Pick Your Topic Tuesday, The Environment. > BEEF! It’s What’s Killing Our Planet.

BEEF! It’s What’s Killing Our Planet.

Public domain photograph of various meats. (Be...

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My thanks to everyone who contributed topics for “Pick Your Topic Tuesday.” The inaugural winner was Michelle Beltano Curtis from Carving Out a Voice, with her suggestion of how the over consumption of meat in America adversely affects our environment. If you haven’t introduced yourself to Carving Out a Voice yet, you should. Her hyperlink is on my blog roll under “Literary,” and it’s worth it to take the time to read. My congratulations and thanks to Carving Out a Voice for her wonderful suggestion. Without further adieu, I bring you:

BEEF! It’s what’s killing our planet!

Were you aware that on average, an American eats approximately 250 pounds of meat per year?  No? Here are some other facts that you may not have known about the livestock industry:

– Livestock currently provides a third of human protein intake.

– Grazing lands take up 26% of the ice-free land on this planet.

Feed crop production is 33% of all usable land on Earth.

– 70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is taken up by pasture.

– It takes around 2400 gallons of water per pound of meat to raise livestock.

– According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, rearing cattle generates more carbon dioxide than all of our methods of transportation combined.

– Livestock are responsible for 37% of all human activity related methane emissions, and methane has 23 times more global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide

– Livestock accounts for nearly two thirds of human related ammonia emissions.

– In the USA, Livestock are responsible for over half of the country’s erosion and sediment issues.

– 30% of the earth’s land surface which was once wildlife habitat is now occupied by livestock.

– The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961.

– In 2007, meat supply was estimated to be 284 million tons.

– World meat consumption is expected to double again by 2050.

What do all these numbers mean? What they mean is when the discussion of environmental degradation and global warming comes up; the livestock industry must be included when trying to focus on the main causes. The process of raising, slaughtering, packaging, transporting, and consuming beef, pork, and poultry adversely affects our global footprint exponentially.  It’s absolutely insane how many resources are devoted to raising livestock, and our environment is drastically suffering for our gluttony when it comes to meat. Another thing to consider is that all of the feed crops and land that are devoted to raising livestock would produce enough crops fit for human consumption to easily accommodate our ever growing global population. We could even use a majority of that land to repopulate our decimated forests, and still have enough left over to grow crops!

The environment is not the only thing affected by our over consumption of meat; if you take the time to consider how many antibiotics, steroids, and other growth hormones go into livestock to produce a better product, you just may swear off meat forever. It’s no wonder health costs are forever rising in America; we’re poisoning ourselves every time we grill up that steak, or buy a hamburger at McDonalds. Not only are we poisoning ourselves from the chemicals in meat, we’re contributing to our own obesity, and clogging our arteries with all the fat and tri-glycerides that we subject our bodies to by eating as much meat as we do.

If we truly are going to dedicate ourselves to saving the environment as well as become a healthier country over all, we must make some drastic changes in the way we consume meat. First of all, we have to cut back. The average person will do just fine eating 2-3 four ounce portions of meat a week. Our bodies weren’t made to process so much meat in the first place.

The next thing we can do is buy only free-range meat. Free range meat comes from ranches that do not pen their livestock, nor fill them full of antibiotics and growth hormones. In other words, free range meat would be the equivalent to organic vegetables. The meat may be a little more expensive, but at least we’re not committing Angus suicide by consuming it.

The next time you reach for that XT burger at the drive thru window at Burger King, take a few moments to consider everything that went into that burger before it got to you. You may just be tempted to hand it back and buy a salad instead.

  1. May 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Great post, Hat! Thanks for the information. I can’t believe how much of our resources are taken up by the production of meat.


  2. May 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I’m glad I could do your topic suggestion justice!


  3. May 27, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I recently read an article about the new science of growing meat in a lab. It’s in it’s infancy, and so for they are only growing tissue pieces about the size of a contacts, but……the implications are enormously positive (but a little creepy, huh?).

    In the mean time, I suggest we become a catsup/ketchup based society….HA!
    Ketchup, for the good times!


    • May 27, 2011 at 10:29 am

      I’m not sure how I feel about meat grown in a lab. It tends to make me think we’re that much closer to doling out Soylent Green. *shiver*


  4. May 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

    correction, about the size of a contact lens….


  1. May 30, 2011 at 9:24 am

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