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Climate change has been getting some of the attention it needs recently, with kids even striking school to make a statement! It's a hugely important topic, maybe the most important? I believe if everyone does just a little bit to help fight climate change, it makes the world of difference. When it comes to making that difference, it seems the easiest thing you can do is cutting back or cutting out your meat intake.
'In October, scientists warned that huge reductions in meat eating are required if the world is to stave off dangerous climate change, with beef consumption in western countries needing to drop by 90 percent, replaced by five times more beans and pulses.'
How the Meat Industry Affects Humans
Most grain is fed to livestock, resulting in the price of it being raised, and therefore unaffordable for billions of people. Specifically, 3.5 billion people could be fed if all this grain was fed to humans, rather than animals, raised to be killed.
For locals, the emissions and pollution these farms release can cause respiratory irritation, bronchitis, lung inflammation, dust toxic syndrome, asthma and even cardiac arrest. People have been known to die from high levels of hydrogen sulfide being released. It's not just the animals that suffer from the meat industry.
And of course there's the huge contribution it has to climate change, which affects us all.
'Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events—such as floods, droughts and heatwaves—and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.'
Land and Deforestation
30 percent of our planets land is used to farm livestock.
I'll repeat that.
30 percent of our planets land is used to farm livestock. Yet more and more land is being cleared each day. The deforestation that makes land for livestock actually leads other species to extinction.
'More than 90 percent of all Amazon Rainforest land cleared since 1970 is used for grazing livestock.'
The beef industry in particular is said to be the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon.
Water and Our Oceans
Waste from livestock and factory farms is one of the leading causes of pollution in rivers and lakes. Water polluted by animal waste is contaminated with bacteria and viruses, often making it dangerous.
In addition to water pollution, it takes vast amounts of water to grow crops for livestock, to clean factory farms, and for livestock to drink.
'A single cow used for milk can drink up to 50 gallons of water per day—or twice that amount in hot weather—and it takes 683 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk.'
Some fishing methods clear the ocean floor of all life. Thousands of dolphins, turtles, sharks, and other sea creatures die in the process of fishing. Not to mention the destruction inflicted on coral reefs.
In China and Vietnam, sharks are killed for their fins, and their bodies are discarded back into the sea. The fins are used for the traditional dish of shark fin soup. This soup is leading some species of sharks to extinction, having declined by 95 percent over the past few decades.
Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the whole world’s transportation systems combined. Yup. Cars, trains, planes, ships somehow aren't even as harmful to the earth as the industry that raises livestock. Deforestation, transportation, animal waste, product distribution is some of many ways the meat industry pollutes the planet.
'Livestock production—which includes meat, milk and eggs—contributes 40 percent of global agricultural gross domestic product, provides income for more than 1.3 billion people and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water.'
It's easy to disassociate your chicken wings from the real life cutie clucky lil chicks. You probably forget about all the harm and damage that went into getting that burger in your bun, because it's so god darn delicious. It took me four attempts to go vegetarian, but I did it. I felt guilty whenever I ate meat because I knew about all the destruction and pain behind it. As yummy as they are, McDonalds nugs just aren't as important as the lives of animals and the health of the planet.
Decreasing your meat intake is a hugely positive step in tackling climate change. If not for the animals, do it for the planets sake, and for your own.