The scary truth about humanity’s impact on the environment has already been revealed—and it involves global warming and beef. If you have seen, heard or read about the newly infamous documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret you know about beef’s connection to global warming. But, let’s take a step back for a moment in case you have absolutely no idea where this is headed.
Little do most people know that animal agriculture is the ultimate culprit of greenhouse emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, nitrous oxide and ozone), which lead to global warming. Society’s love for the taste of cattle is leaving a much larger, more dangerous ecological footprint than we probably would have predicted way back in the day when animals first began to be domesticated and cultivated.
The Effects of the Western Diet
What we eat has profound effects on the environment. The Western taste for meat, eggs and dairy adds to two “growing” trends: waistlines and environmental degradation. It is like a domino effect; diet trends affect public health which then affects climate change. Thus, consuming animal produce is contributing to and causing us to eat our way to global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions are significantly related to food production, making animal agriculture the ultimate source of global warming and pollution. For example, it is the number one water polluter and it also uses an immense amount of water for production necessities such as irrigation or direct consumption of the livestock. Around the globe, about 70 percent of the planets freshwater is used for farming (compared to about 20 percent for industry and 10 percent for domestic use). It takes 250 liters of water to grow one kilogram of potatoes while it takes 15,000 liters to produce one kilogram of beef.
Diet alone cannot stop global warming, however a change in diet will most definitely help. There is an explicit link between climate change and dietary patterns, which brings us to realize that adopting a healthier diet is the way to go. The water usage statistics show that it takes at least three times the water to feed a meat eater than it does to feed a vegan. The plant-based diet uses less resources while Westernized diets, which we recognize are meat-heavy, waste the resources we need to be desperate about conserving. We do not even have enough land to feed an animal-based diet to a growing population.
Is the fact that animal agriculture is destroying our planet enough to turn you vegetarian or vegan? Actually, this is more about cutting down rather than out. It is unrealistic to think the entire world will stop eating animals, but the more people that become aware of what is really happening to our environment the more change we can gradually see. All in all, the less animals we consume, the less likely animal agriculture will be the earth’s demise. Without always realizing it, animal-dense eating habits are leaving a massive ecological, cheeseburger footprint.