Animal agriculture induced global warming melting icecaps

Climate Change: Combating Environmental Disaster Means Resisting Animal Agriculture [Opinion]

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the most urgent issues that we currently face. As the dominant species on earth, humans have a vested interest, as well as a moral responsibility, to take care of the planet. After all, if we destroy the earth, we destroy ourselves.

Protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, marching for climate awareness, and demanding stricter regulations against corporate pollution are certainly extremely important actions to take. However, it’s easy to become discouraged when faced with the magnitude of climate injustice that is occurring, and it’s difficult to measure whether our hard-fought efforts are making even the smallest dent in the problem.

Luckily, however, there is one action that we can all take that produces almost immediate, measurable results environmentally, physically, and financially — veganism. As shown in a study by PNAS last March, eliminating the use and consumption of animal products is the single most effective approach an individual can take to alleviate the rapid destruction of our environment. As a bonus, choosing veganism as a lifestyle also improves health, promotes animal welfare, cuts down on the risk of cancer and heart disease, and even saves money at the grocery store.

According to the aforementioned study, by achieving the widespread adoption of a plant-based diet, several million deaths could be prevented each year, planet-warming emissions could be cut substantially, and billions of dollars spent annually on healthcare and climate damage could be saved.

The time for taking action is now. As the current White House administration continues down a warpath against Planet Earth, it’s up to all of us to fight back against the threat of environmental destruction posed by the current cabinet of profit-driven oligarchs. Instead of dividing ourselves up as Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, left or right, we must instead all learn to set aside partisan politics in order to save our planet from the greed and destruction of corporate interests and environmental profiteers.

On that note, it’s also important to be clear that regarding environmental issues, there are bigger fish to fry than the current president and his cabinet. To the dismay of many on the left, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both contributed to environmental policies that seem to match Trump’s rhetoric on this subject, and their backdoor support of the Keystone pipeline is no better than Trump’s open support of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In fact, the similarities that exist between the 2016 Republican and Democratic nominees on this issue speaks to a very powerful donor network that ensures profitability is consistently prioritized over people and the planet, regardless of who occupies the White House.

This month, the New York Times reported that 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record. Taking shorter showers, recycling, and carpooling is no longer enough to make a difference. As the climate situation grows increasingly worse, the single most important thing the average person can do to make a real difference is to give up animal products today.

Herd of farmed cows eat at trough
[Image by 123ducu/iStock]

According to a recent United Nations report, climate change is already affecting every part of the globe, impacting ecosystems, agriculture, water supplies, human health, animal well-being, and economic livelihoods. Raising animals for food is now recognized by the U.N. as “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”

Furthermore, the U.N. has stated that a global shift toward plant-based food is vital if we are to stand a chance against the worst effects of climate change. As reported by the Worldwatch Institute, a massive 51 percent (at least) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are shown to be caused by animal agriculture.

PETA has also confirmed these conclusions in a recent article, making an excellent case for fighting climate change by disavowing animal agriculture in favor of a plant-based diet.

“The most powerful step that we can take as individuals to halt climate change is to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy foods.”

As mentioned earlier, the benefits of veganism aren’t just limited to the environment and climate change. On average, meat-eaters spend more on healthcare costs and grocery bills, and generally limit themselves to more bland, meat-based dishes, ignoring an entire array of colorful fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, seeds, grains, and berries.

Animal agriculture causes heavy pollution, world hunger, ocean deadzones, extinction, and deforestation. For those of us who care about climate justice, and who have access to animal-free options, choosing to go vegan is one of the most important activities that we can engage in.

Did you know?

  • To produce one pound of meat, it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water, but to grow one pound of grain, it only takes 25 gallons of water.
  • More water is saved by not eating a pound of meat than by not showering for six months.
  • According to Worldwatch, 56 million acres of land are used for animal agriculture, while only 4 million acres of land are dedicated to growing produce.
  • L.A. Times reported that 70 percent of grain in the U.S. is fed to farm animals instead of people.
  • A report for Compassion in World Farming Trust found that farmed cattle around the world consume an amount of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people — which is more than the entire human population currently on Earth.
  • 4,200 gallons of water per day are required to produce a meat-eater’s diet, but only 300 gallons of water per day are needed to produce a plant-based diet, according to Worldwatch.
  • National Geographic found that 70 percent of freshwater in the U.S. goes directly to animal agriculture.
  • One Green Planet reported that all resources combined, one acre of land can produce 250 pounds of beef. The same acre of land could instead produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, or 53,000 pounds of potatoes.

[Featured Image by SeppFriedhuber/iStock]