The Environment



Get the facts!


Traditional farming is literally gone. Factory farms that process huge numbers of animals in gigantic assembly lines dominate meat production. As the business of food production has been taking over by large scale agro-business, the impact on the environment has been catastrophic.

Our supply of water is disappearing at an alarming rate. Everywhere you look today, people are seeking to conserve water. However, all the measures that are taking place save a miniscule amount of water compared to a shift to a plant based diet.

  • Water required to produce 1 lbs. of U S beef, according to the food and human nutrition department of the college of agriculture and natural resources at Michigan State University: 2500 gallons
  • Water required to produce 1 lbs. of California beef, according to the water education foundation: 2,464 gallons
  • Water required to produce 1 lbs. of California foods, according to the soil and water specialists, university of California agricultural extension:

1 pound of lettuce:             23 gallons

1 pound of tomatoes:         23 gallons

1 pound of potatoes:           24 gallons

1 pound of wheat:               25 gallons

1 pound of carrots:             33 gallons

1 pound of apples:             49 gallons

1 pound of chicken:             815 gallons

1 pound of pork:                 1,630 gallons

1 pound of beef:                 5,214 gallons

Here is one way to look at the use of water. Let’s say you take a 7 minute shower every day and the flow of water from the shower head is 2 gallons minute. You would save more water by not eating a pound of beef than if shower for almost an entire year. In California, the single biggest consumer of water is not Los Angeles. It’s not the oil, chemical and defense industries. Nor is it the fields of grapes and tomatoes. It’s irrigated pasture: grass grown in a near desert for cows. The west’s water crisis and many other environmental problems as well can be summed up, implausible as this may be, in a single word: LIVESTOCK

 Nearly half the water consumed in this country is used for livestock, mostly cattle”

 There are more chickens being processed in the US annually than people in the world. There are more than 300 million turkeys, 100 million hogs and 60 million cattle in the US.

What happens to the excrement from so many animals?

With huge number of animals concentrated in feedlots and confinement buildings, there is no economically feasible way to return the animals waste to the land. Agriculture today depends in chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The waste from today’s agro business ends up in our water.

Seventy percent of the land area of the American West is currently used for grazing livestock. In the American west, every place that can be grazed is grazed. And yet, most of the grazing on which this grazing takes place is in publicly owned lands. Currently, 70% of the land in the western national forests and 90 % of bureau of land management land are grazed by livestock for private profit.

When so many 1000 lbs. animals walk on the earth, they trample plants and compact the soil. This makes it harder for grasses and plants to grow. And since compacted soil does not absorb water freely, heavy rain then courses off the surface, carrying away topsoil, scouring deep gullies, and damaging stream beds.

The USDA animal control program was established in 1931 for a single purpose-to eradicate, suppress, and control wildlife considered to be detrimental to the western livestock industry. Among the wildlife service agents intentionally kill are badgers, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, gray fox, red fox, mountain lions, opossum, raccoons, striped skunks, beavers, nutrias, porcupines, prairie dogs, black birds, cattle egrets and starlings. More than 1.5 million wild animals are killed annually. This is all done at the public’s expense to protect the private financial interest of the cattlemen. A shift to a plant-based lifestyle would mean that the vast prairies of the west could gradually return to health. It would mean life instead of extinction for many of the species that federal programs currently target and kill. It would mean that our children might yet live to see a way of life in harmony with the natural systems of the earth.

The tropical rain forest is among the planet’s most precious natural resources. They contain 80% of the world’s species of land vegetation and account for much of the global oxygen supply. Half of all species on earth live in the tropical rainforest. The tropical rainforest is being destroyed at alarming rates. Every second, an area the size of a football field is wiped out forever.

What drives this devastation? : Cattle-grazing.

Imports of beef by the U S from Mexico and Central America during the past 35 years has been a major factor in the loss of about half of the tropical forest there-all for the sake of keeping the price of hamburger in the U S about a nickel less than it would have been otherwise.

  • Number of species of birds in one square mile of Amazon rainforest: more than exist in all of North America
  • Life forms destroyed in the production of each fast food hamburger made from rainforest beef: members of 20 to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species, and dozens of bird, mammal, and reptile species.
  • Length of time before the Indonesian forests, 280 million of acres would be completely gone if they were cleared to produce for Indonesians to eat as much beef, per person, as people in the U S: 3.5 years
  • Length of time before Costa Rican rainforest would be completely gone if it were cleared to produce enough beef for the people of Costa Rica to eat as much beef, per person, as the people of the US: 1 year
  • What hamburger produced by clearing the forest in India would cost if the real cost we included in the price rather than subsidized: $200

Is a quarter pound of hamburger worth of half a ton of Brazil’s rain forest? Is 67 square feet of rainforest-an area the size of a small kitchen- too much to pay for a hamburger? Should we form cattle pastures to produce hamburgers in the Amazon, or should we retain the rainforest and the natural environment?

We need our world’s forests. They are vital sources of oxygen.

They moderate climates, prevent floods, and are our best defense against soil erosion. Forests recycle and purify water. They are home to millions of plants and animals. The race is on to save them and we must sprint there.

The earth’s atmosphere is a complex mixture of gases that envelops the world. For many centuries, the atmosphere has remained stable, as it must to maintain conditions conducive to life. That is until now. When we burn fossil fuels and forests, we pump enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The majority of fossil fuels have been burned in the last 40 years. Numerous scientific studies and pure common sense determined that this is the major cause of global warming.

  • Economic losses from weather related disasters, worldwide in 1980: $2.8 billion
  • Average annual economic losses form weather related disasters, worldwide 1980-1984: $6.5 billion
  • Economic losses form weather related disasters in 1985: $7.2 billion
  • Average economic losses from weather related disasters, worldwide 1985-1989: $9.2 billion
  • Economic losses from weather related disasters worldwide in 1990:$ 18.0 billion
  • Average annual economic losses from weather related disasters, worldwide 1990-1994: $27.6 billion
  • Economic losses from weather related disasters, worldwide in 1995: $40.3 billion
  • Average annual economic losses from weather related disasters, worldwide, 1995-1999: $58.5 billion
  • Economic losses from weather related disasters, worldwide, 1999: $67 billion (All figures in 1980 dollars)

For the past 10,000 years the levels of carbon dioxide remain constant, about 280 parts per million. Then, about 100 years ago, it began to slowly at first, to rise. Now we are at 360 parts per million, a concentration of carbon dioxide that has not existed on Earth for at least 400,000 years.

In a world where an estimated 1 in every 6 people goes hungry every day, the politics of meat consumption are increasingly heated, since meat production is an inefficient use of grain-the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans.

Continued growth in meat output is depending on feeding grains to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the world’s poor. So while more than a billion people go hungry, Mcdonald’s is opening 5 restaurants a day, 4 of then outside of the U S. Is Mcdonald’s in Ethiopia the answer to world hunger? As other countries increase their consumption of animal products, ever more grain goes to animals and less to people. China has increased its meat consumption at alarming rate, and China cannot import the grain it needs without driving world grain prices up, leaving the 1.3 billion people in the world who subsist on less than a dollar a day at risk.

  • US corn eaten by people: 2%
  • US corn eaten by livestock: 77%
  • US farmland producing vegetables: 4 million acres
  • US farmland producing hay for livestock: 56 million acres
  • US grains and cereals fed to livestock: 70%
  • Human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by US livestock: 1. 4 billion
  • World’s population living in the US: 4 %
  • World’s beef eaten in the US: 23%

The number of people whose food energy needs can be met by the food produced on 2.5 acres of land:

  • Cabbage: 23 people
  • Potatoes: 22 people
  • Rice: 19 people
  • Corn: 17 people
  • Wheat: 15 people
  • Chicken: 2 people
  • Milk: 2 people
  • Eggs: 1 person
  • Beef: 1 person

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