Animal agriculture is a leading cause of global climate change. Becoming Vegan could be the single most effective action that you can do to help reduce green house gas emissions, save clean water, protect the forests, decrease ocean dead zones, and have a huge positive impact on human health.
If just half of the Earth’s population began eating a plant-based diet — the global warming threat would diminish immensely — it would reduce greenhouse gases caused by food production by 70% by 2050.
We have already witnessed the coastal effects of climate change. The increasing rise of the sea level could force tens of millions of people to have to move away from their homes within the next century. Flooding from rising sea levels and catastrophic storms are likely to destroy and/or make unsuitable for use — billions of dollars of property by the middle of this century. The Atlantic and Gulf coasts face a greater than average risk of destruction.
“Impacts from climate change are happening now. Ecosystems and human communities are currently being affected. These impacts extend well beyond just an increase in temperature. They are happening in the United States, and across the globe. Multiple sectors of our our society, spanning across regional boundaries, are being affected. Already impacted are things that we depend upon and value: water, energy, transportation, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and human health.
Across the country, changes to water resources are of critical concern. In some regions, particularly in the western United States, drought is an important factor conditions are critically affecting local communities. Less snow accumulation in the mountains is important in the West and Alaska where the snowpack stores water for later use. In the Midwest and northeastern states, the amount of heavy downpours has substantially increased over the past few decades. In many regions, floods and water quality problems are likely to be worse because of climate change.”
–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (U.S. Department of Commerce)
“Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.”
- Temperatures will continue to rise, frost-free growing season will lengthen, affecting ecosystems and agriculture.
- Changes in precipitation patterns mean more Winter and Spring precipitation is projected over this century for the northern United States, and less for the Southwest.
- Increased droughts and heat waves projected for much of the western and central U.S. in Summer.
- Hurricanes will become stronger and more intense in greater frequency, duration, and strength.
- Sea level will rise 1-4 feet by 2100 as global sea level has already risen by 8+/- inches since records began in 1880.
- Arctic likely to become essentially ice free in the Summer before mid-century.
–The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
“We’re facing the biggest environmental challenge our species has ever seen. No matter what we’re passionate about, something we care about will be affected by climate change.”
–The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) formerly World Wildlife Fund
After Hurricane Florence, according to North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, 132 of the state’s 4000 hog-waste lagoons were compromised. Many were flooded and leaked toxic pollution into area waterways that join into our own. Think about this!
Globally, agriculture accounts for about 70% of all freshwater use, and meat production requires 8 to 10 times more water. Only 5% of water consumed in the U.S. is by private homes. 56% of water consumed in the country is for animal agriculture. It takes a minimum of 2,500 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of beef, 477 gallons to produce 1lb of eggs, 900 gallons for a pound of cheese, and 1,000 gallons to produce just 1 gallon of animal milk.
An estimated 8 billion individual livestock animals are being raised in the United States — which uses more than HALF of all the fresh water consumed in the country. This water usage takes into account animal’s hydration needs and the amount of water needed for crops grown to feed livestock. Unfortunately, the environmental issues don’t stop here. Of the 330 million acres of agricultural land in the U.S., 260 million acres are used to only produce feed for livestock. The United States Environmental Protection Agency determined in the 2000 National Water Quality Inventory that about 40% of rivers and streams are already impaired, and the leading cause of the pollution was agriculture – from animal feed crops and waste.
Farmed animals create 500 million tons of manure a year. That is the equivalent of 12.5 million semi-trucks! Animals confined to small spaces on farms or animal feeding operations (CAFOs and AFOs) create very concentrated areas of urine and poop. Runoff, carrying contaminants from these sources, makes its way into lakes and rivers just like the common pesticide runoff from farmland. Some AFOs store all this manure and urine in storage capacity basins called lagoons, and these lagoons usually leak or overflow contaminating groundwater and streams with millions of gallons of toxic waste.
Animal agriculture uses up the most land — for crop production as well as for grazing. Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest — the “lungs of our planet”.
Agriculture in general is responsible for most of the destruction of the Amazon, but cattle ranching is still the #1 driver of rainforest destruction specifically — even as palm oil is decimating rainforests in Indonesia. Soy and palm oil production are slowly catching up.
According to an online report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 26% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface is used for livestock grazing. Over one-third, or 33%, of the planet’s arable land is occupied by livestock feed crop cultivation alone.
There are currently more than 7 billion people on the planet — that is twice as many as just 50 years ago. We are straining our planet’s resources at dangerously unsustainable levels. In another 50 years, it is predicted that there will be 10 billion people walking the Earth. Where are our resources going? Where will our resources be as they are continuously polluted and consumed?
New studies also reveal that there are half as many fish in the oceans as there were in 1970. Citing overfishing as the main cause, the report shows the Scombridae family of fish (includes tunas and mackerels), has lost up to 75% of its population in that time frame. Other sharp declines include leatherback turtles and porbeagle sharks.
85% of the World’s fish populations are either extinct, on the way to extinction, or at endangered population levels. For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded like trash as “by-kill”.
United Nations experts have already warned that the World faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to recover. Even today, most aquatic animals and fish are polluted by micro-plastics, dioxins, mercury, and other pollutants — making seafood an unhealthy option for human consumption.
Humans kill up to 2.7 trillion sea animals and over 74 billion land animals per year for food. Thousands of horses, bears, wolves, cougars, and other animals are needlessly and brutally killed to protect corporate rancher interests. The current consumption patterns of humans is driving 200 species to extinction each and every day. Over-breeding genetically-altered living beings for food, while killing wildlife and destroying our Earth’s natural ecosystems, is wholly unsustainable.
Our planet is facing the 6th Mass Extinction RIGHT NOW.
In the United States, 99% of farm animals are reared on factory farms. Over 25 million farm animals are slaughtered EACH DAY in the United States alone.
A global shift to a plant-based diet today would also save an estimated 79 million human lives and avoid 5.1 million human deaths per year — as well as saving trillions of dollars in health care costs. 71.3% of human deaths each year are due to preventable, lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.
South Carolina has the third highest childhood obesity rate in the country and as of 2017, 22.7% of children in the state live in poverty. Nearly 40% of youth in the state are overweight or obese, putting them at risk for serious health problems. Kids at younger ages are developing Type 2 diabetes!
Removing processed meat from a child’s diet and focusing on plant-based alternatives will not only help to reduce their cancer risk, but it will also reduce their development of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes in the future — as well as boost their performance in the classroom today.
Researchers published a study in 2017 that spanned a 19 year period. It found that those who ate meat (any kind of meat: processed, unprocessed, red meat, white meats, variety meats, or organ meats such as liver or tongue) and ate less plant protein, had a 35% greater risk of developing diabetes.
South Carolina’s adult obesity rate is currently 34.1%. Per results measured in 2016, 14.2% of children aged 2 to 4 years in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) were overweight.
Yet, when disaster strikes, it becomes a health disaster as well.
Well-meaning people, groups, and churches were making actual specific requests for donations of cheap hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, eggs, and milk or cheese — to feed to evacuees, to those who lost their home, and to first responders. Sadly, many of these people were already facing dire health problems and mounting medical bills. Many are obese and already relying on expensive medications. There are community members suffering from cancer, diabetes, heart disease — and the donations of health-harming animal products helped to make sure that our waterways become even more polluted, and that our next storms will become worse.
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) has been directly linked to the years that one has consumed the Standard American Diet (SAD). The fatty plaque deposits that narrow and block important arteries and blood vessels begin to accumulate in early childhood. Many conditions that we think “runs in the family”, only seem to because of food and lifestyle habits passed down. Fatty cholesterol streaks are now often found in children as young as 3 years old! This means that by the time a child reaches 10 years old, they likely have atherosclerotic plaque forming — and the plaques will continue to form, causing coronary artery disease upon reaching the age of 30 or more years of age.
It has repeatedly been documented that replacing animal protein with plant proteins works quickly to reduce blood cholesterol levels, even when the total amount of fats in the diet remain the same. Plant-based food also offers soluble fiber, which is not found in any animal products. Soluble fiber helps to slow the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol that the liver makes.
Bad cholesterol is only found in animal products and in their secretions. This includes: cow and pig, goat and lamb, deer and ducks, fish and shellfish, chickens and turkeys, all animal milks, all dairy creams, cheeses, and of course eggs. Meat and dairy actually exacerbate inflammation, and it can feed serious conditions such as autoimmune diseases and cancers. Saturated fat is also predominately found in animal products as well as in hydrogenated oils – so it is important to avoid these items if one would like to prevent or stop the progression of cardiovascular disease.
The best lifestyle for lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy weight is a vegan diet that includes fresh and cooked vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, grains, seeds, fresh clean water, and moderate exercise. Fun, easy, and delicious — a whole food plant–based diet can actually lower cholesterol often as much as commonly prescribed statin drugs – but in a safer, more affordable, and more nutritious way.
The toll on human health does not stop there, unfortunately. Approximately 80% of the antibiotics sold in the United States are just used in meat and poultry production. This has lead to the growth of resistant Superbugs, and to decreasing antibiotic effectiveness when they are used to treat humans. Over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. In 2013, more than 131,000 tons of antibiotics were used in food animals Worldwide; by 2030, it will be more than 200,000 tons!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time — with at least 2 million people getting an antibiotic-resistant infection and 23,000 dying each year in the U.S. alone. These resistant germs get into the environment from animal manure. If water or animal manure containing the resistant germs and bacteria are used on vegetables, fruits, or other produce as fertilizer or during irrigation — the Superbugs can be spread. We are already seeing this often in, and prior to, 2018-2019 with the irrigation water contamination of E. coli outbreaks on romaine lettuce and multiple salmonella infected meat recalls.
In 2013, per the American Association for the Advancement of Science, researchers found that people living near crop fields fertilized with pig manure — or near pig farms — were 30% more likely to become infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. MRSA can be deadly.
The majority of chickens produced in the United States are treated with chlorine in hopes of removing some contamination, but a recent study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute proved that 47% of all meat and poultry sold in U.S. grocery stores was already contaminated with S. aureus, and 52% of those bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Per the FDA, more than 25% of retail chicken is resistant to 5 or more different classes of antibiotic treatment drugs, so an estimated 90% to100% of conventional chicken contains at least one form of antibiotic resistant microorganism.
An investigation by a team of microbiologists from Southampton University, and published in the U.S. journal mBioAn, found that the chlorine washing technique used by many U.S. poultry producers does not remove all contaminants. They found that bacteria such as listeria and salmonella remained viably active after chlorine washing. Random samples of chicken products across the United States in 2012 by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found 48% of the samples to also contain fecal matter.
Add to these Superbugs the threat of the swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus that appeared in 2009. It often mutates into stronger and more dangerous flu strains — killing many vulnerable children and elderly each year — existing due to the practice of confining and “farming” pigs. This is especially important to think about as meat companies such as Seaboard Triumph Foods and Prestage Farms in the United States have spent hundreds of millions of dollars boosting slaughter capacity by more than 10% from three years ago to killing nearly HALF a MILLION pigs EACH DAY. This greed leads to more GMO feed crops over-riding clean food crops, more pigs bred and killed — and more manure, toxic bacteria waste, and more antibiotics used.
All animal agriculture and it’s production (dairy, eggs, seafood, poultry, fish, beef, lamb, pork, etc.) are the leading causes of ocean acidification, ocean dead zones, deforestation, soil degradation, water pollution, species extinction, human health degradation, and mass starvation in poorer grain-exporting countries.
Globally, even with climate change issues and weather extremes, we are already producing enough grain to feed two times as many people as there are in the World! With over 2.5 billion tons of grains and vegetables — half of it was fed only to animals in the meat and dairy industries. 77% of all coarse grains (corn, oats, sorghum, barley, etc.) and over 90% of all soy grown in the World was fed to just animal livestock.
We currently produce enough food to feed ALL of the World’s hungry, but it’s where it is actually going that really matters. This will certainly become more of an issue as our planet’s human population extends beyond 9 billion before the year 2050. Realize that 82% of the World’s starving children live in countries where food is shipped away and fed to animals that are then killed and eaten by more ‘well off’ individuals in developed countries like the U.S., China, and areas of Europe and beyond. Over one fourth of all grain produced by “third world countries” is given to livestock, leaving countless humans facing hunger and devastation.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – How climate is changing
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – U.S. Department of Commerce – Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Formerly World Wildlife Fund – The Effects Of Climate Change – (The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961, working in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment. It was formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – Analysis and valuation of the health and climate change cobenefits of dietary change
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health – Meat Consumption as a Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes
Cleveland Clinic – How to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes: Cut Back on Meat
Journal of the American College of Cardiology – Healthy Plant-Based Diet, What Does it Really Mean?
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – Lowering Cholesterol with a Plant-Based Diet
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – How Does Meat Cause Inflammation?
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance (AR / AMR)
Science Magazine – AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science – Are antibiotics turning livestock into superbug factories?
Mayo Clinic – What are superbugs, and how can I protect myself from infection?
Virology Journal – From where did the 2009 ‘swine-origin’ influenza A virus (H1N1) emerge?
Is the Livestock Industry Destroying the Planet? – Smithsonian.com
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization – Livestock And Landscapes (PDF)
Rainforest Foundation – Deforestation In Your Kitchen
COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret – The Facts