Even if you couldn’t care less about the thousands of animal’s lives being ended for your weekly Big Mac, the impact eating meat has on our environment should be enough to get everyone at least trying to reduce their meat intake.
Global facts and figures (such as those below) can be quite intimidating, when thinking about the land used I think of this way.
1) One square meter of land (i.e. used to grow wheat).
2) This wheat is then processed, travels, and is fed to cattle using up another square of land.
3) This meat is then raised, slaughtered, traveled, processed, and eventually turned into meat products.
Now imagine if that wheat, or whatever grain, soy or crop was being grown, was grown in that square of land also used for cattle. You automatically have twice the land, and twice the food, going straight into our stomachs rather then that of another animal. By cutting out the ‘middle man’ as it so were, we can produce more food, reduce transport needs, water consumption, deforestation and more.
- Raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and growing feed crops) now uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass.
- In 2006, the UN calculated that the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18% of the global total – more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
- To produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water.
- In the United States, 70% of the grain grown is fed to farmed animals. Imagine how many people we could feed with that food.
- Friends of the Earth estimates that around 6m hectares of forest land a year – an area equivalent to Latvia or twice the size of Belgium – and a similar acreage of peat and wetlands elsewhere, is converted to farmland a year. Of that, it says, most goes to livestock or to grow the crops to feed the cattle.