Meat Eating, Vegan, and Environment Conservation

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This page is about vegan lifestyle influence on environment; or more accurately about large scale factory livestock meat production and its environmental impact. Here, meat rising means cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, and all other land animals raised for human consumption which also includes fish farming. At the conclusion, it talks little bit about overall human's impact to our planet and what the future may hold for us.

Table of Contents

Overview and Introduction to Resource Waste from Raising Meat

In US, 87% of farmland is used to raise food for livestock. That is 45% of total land mass of US. Meat raising use up 43% of entire grain production and 85% of entire legume production. More then 260,000 acres (= 406.25 square miles = 1052.18 square kilometer) of US forest are cut down every year in order to grow crops to feed livestock. Of all the cause of Amazon virgin rain forest deforestation, number one cause is cutting down trees in order to raise crops to produce meat – 70% of those trees are cut for this purpose. To produce a quarter pound hamburger, 55 square feet of virgin rain forest, which took hundreds of years to grow, are cut down.

More then 80% of oats and more then 95% of corns are grown for the purpose of feeding livestock. The world's livestock cattle alone consume grains and legumes enough to feed 8.7 billion people, which is more then the entire human population of earth. To put in smaller term, it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, which is why overconsumption of meat leads to widespread hunger because grain is sold to whoever can pay the most, which is rich countries. This essentially cause conflicts and instabilities around the world.

The fossil fuel used to raise grain which in turn goes to livestock to produce meat is 1/3 of total fossil fuel used in US (from 'E,' the environmental magazine 2002). This fossil fuel in agriculture is used to make fertilizer and pesticides for crops that will feed animals. It is also used in running agricultural machine to sow, tend, and harvest these crops, and electricity to maintain livestock quarters. A single hamburger patty takes fossil fuel energy equal to driving a small car 20 miles. To know more about how fossil fuel is wasted in meat production process, read the section, fossil fuel waste.

Meat raising also results enormous amount of water pollution and waste in the scale that is incomparable amount of pollution as discussed next section.

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Water Pollution and Waste

Entire livestock in the world produce 87,000 pounds of excrements per second, which is 130 times more then that of the human population. So much so that they cannot be properly rot in the land. They washes off to streams, rivers, and sea before they rot, polluting majority of drinking water. In US alone, the amount of pollution by livestock fecal matters cause 10 times more water contamination then by human excrement – click on the link to read about it in more detail.

Raising animals for human consumption not only causes enormous water pollution, but also used up valuable clean water in extraordinary amount. Nearly half of all the fresh water used in the US is for raising and maintaining livestock. Much water is used in raise and tend the crops that billions of livestock animals eat. Animals also need to drink water and cleaned away from their own fecal matters within crowded factory farm. The slaughterhouses and trucks which transport them (dead or alive), need to be cleaned also.

To produce 1 pound of meat, 5,000 gallons of water is needed. On the other hand, growing 1 pound of wheat only takes 25 gallons of water. This water only includes the water that is used in growing meat. If the calculation includes water spent during other stages of the meat production, such as washing the meat and washing meat processing equipments, the amount becomes bigger – as meat need to be washed more then vegetables during the slaughter process. In a day, a total vegetarian diet (not vegan) requires 300 gallons of water while a meat eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water. To put this in perspective, Total water used in producing a pound of beef is more then water used by a person to take shower for an entire year.

People tend to think that there is lots water everywhere. The truth is, only 2.75% of water on earth is fresh water. Of those, 2.05% are the frozen glaciers in Arctic and Antarctic. So what people can use as agriculture and drinking water is about 0.70%. What we use as water comes all from this 0.70% of water on earth. However, the actual available water is even less then this.

To put this in a better perspective:
Around 0.7% of available fresh water (which does not include salty groundwater) = 0.68% groundwater + 0.0101% surface water in lakes and rivers + 0.04% in cloud/rain/atmosphere. Lake Baikal in Russia has 7/8 of this available surface water (about 0.088%) in all the lakes and rivers. So if Lake Baikal is excluded, then only about 0.0011625 of fresh water is readily available world wide. Water is indeed precious to humanity and to all other species live on land.

All life on land are depends on fresh water on way or another. All fresh water supplies are rich in biodiversity, and by diverting water supply to meat production, countless other species are driven to extinction.

Much of the world's water supply is quietly being diverted to raise livestock for meat. These water deals and constructions gets no media coverage, while millions of people across the globe are faced with droughts and water shortages. Sadly, as the Western diet spreads to the rest of the world, even desert nations in Africa and the Middle East are pouring what little water remains into meat production.

Some people may say that we can utilize sea water, but that is very expensive which requires a lot of fossil fuel. Also, the ocean water that covers our earth surface is not as much as people think. Take a look at this picture – If all earth water is gathered in a single water ball it will be as much as size shown in this picture, which is not much.

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Water Contamination by Livestock Fecal Matters

Fresh Water Contamination

In US, the animals raised for food excrete 130 times more fecal matters then the entire US population, which is about 89,000 pounds per second. All these go into open environment without waste treatment systems. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, in US, for every US household which eat meat, animals in factory farms produce 20 tons of fecal matters every year.

John Chastain, an agricultural extension engineer in Minnesota says that according to the data, pollution strength of raw livestock manure is 160 times more powerful than the raw municipal sewage from human waste. To put this in perspective, a swine farm with 5,000 pigs produce as much pollution as a city of 50,000 people.

Much of the excrement and other bodily waste from farmed animals in the US are stored in huge brown fecal lagoons. These lagoons occasionally spill over to surrounding rivers, streams, waterways and cause massive fishes and other animals to die. When 25 million gallons of putrid hog urine and feces spilled into a North Carolina river in 1995, between 10 and 14 million fish died as an immediate result. The extended result, nobody knows.

This spill was twice as large in volume as the Exxon-Valdez oil disaster, but even smaller amounts of factory-farm runoff can wreak havoc on the environment. These major and minor incidents were never discussed in media.

The pesticides, antibiotics, and powerful growth hormones that are concentrated in animal flesh are also found in their feces, and these chemicals can have catastrophic effects on the ecosystems surrounding factory farms. In West Virginia and Maryland, scientists have recently discovered that male fish are growing ovaries; they suspect that this is the result of factory farm run off hormones from drug laden chicken feces.

Pfiesteria, a deadly microbe that has killed billions of fish, may have originated from sewage run-off from pig and poultry farms in North Carolina and the Delmarva Peninsula.

Water and Air Contamination and Diseases
The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Besides the environmental problems, the dangerous fecal bacteria from farm sewage, including E. coli, can cause serious disease to human population.

When the factory farm's cesspools holding tons of urine and feces get full, factory farms will frequently get around water pollution limits by spraying liquid manure into the air, creating mists that are carried away by the wind. Millions of pounds of dust like these are produced each year. These dusts contain feces, mold, and bacteria. These cause humans who live around the farms to become ill. The concentration of parasites, bacteria, and chemical contaminates in animal excrement can wreak havoc on ecosystems affected by farm run offs.

There are countless reports that humans who live near these farms have become very sick from the pollution. According to a Senate Agricultural Committee report on farm pollution, "Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick."

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Ocean Contamination by Livestock

The pollution from animal factories is also an added factor in ocean environmental destruction. In the Central US, streams and rivers carry excrement from animal factories to the Mississippi River, which then carries off to the Gulf of Mexico. The nitrogen from animal feces and fertilizer (which is primarily used to grow crops that feeds to livestock), causes algae saturate water, leaving little oxygen for other marine life forms.

There are no federal guidelines that regulate how factory farms treat and dispose of the trillions pounds of concentrated animal excrement. This waste may be left to rot in huge lagoons or sprayed over crop fields; both of these disposal methods result run offs that contaminates soil and water, and they kills fishes and other wildlife.

In 2006, the EPA proposed an amendment that would create loophole which would make easier for big live stock factories to pollute the water and air with no oversight. Ed Hopkins, director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program, said that the new loophole "essentially means that these facilities are going to be able to continue to use our streams and rivers as sewers."

In 2006, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," is now half the size of Maryland. Dead zone is an area where virtually all sea animals and plants do not exist because they have died. A separate study by Princeton University in the same year found that reducing meat production, as well as adoption to vegetarian diet, would reduce the dead zone to small size or totally eliminate it.

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Destruction of Ocean by Fishery Industry and Contamination of Ocean by Fish Farming

If you think eating fish is ok, because does not cause so much land destruction as meat does, think again. In the past 50 years, fishers have exterminated 90% of major fish populations.

While factory farms are ruining the land, commercial fishing industry is pushing the entire oceanic ecosystems to destruction. Commercial fishing boats indiscriminately pull everything, which include coral reefs and many other non-target ocean animals in their fishing way, which are not sold in fish markets, out of the sea.

These dead ocean animals are not eaten by human, but dumped back into the sea. Fishing methods like bottom trawling and long-lining have emptied millions of miles of ocean and pushed some marine species to the brink of extinction.

In the tropical sea, coral reef is the oasis of life. It contains a quarter of all life in the tropical sea. This is because hot tropical water contains little oxygen to support any life other then coral reef. The Indonesian coral reef, which supports very rich diversity of fishes and other animals, has only 6% of its original wild habitat remaining.

Fish farming also contribute to water pollution. Fish farmers cram thousands of fishes into tiny enclosures. As a result, feces and other waste accumulate to the point that aquafarms are little more than open sewers.

The massive amounts of feces, fish carcasses, and antibiotic mixed fish foods that settle below fish farm cages have actually caused the ocean floor to rot in some areas. The sludge of fish feces and other debris can be very toxic for already taxed ocean ecosystems from fecal matter spill of the land.

People tend to think oceans as big places and there are lots of areas fishes can live, but this is not true. Shallow seas, the continental shelf, the areas no deeper then 200 meters around continents where sunlight reach, consists only 8% of earth surface. Those are places where most of the marine life exists. Most of other sea areas are similar to land deserts.

From the Article,
Overfishing: a Threat to Marine Biodiversity

    In the last decade, in the north Atlantic region, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95%, prompting calls for urgent measures. Some are even recommending zero catches to allow for regeneration of stocks, much to the ire of the fishing industry.

    According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted.

From Marine Stewardship Council,
Environmental Impact - Cutting out Destructive Fishing Practices

    'Bycatch' is the term used to describe any species that is accidentally caught up in fishing gear, ie species that are not targeted by the fishers. This can include other fish, juveniles and species such as birds, turtles, corals and marine mammals.

    To encourage fisheries to reduce bycatch, regulators in some parts of the world have made it illegal to land bycatch and fishers must throw it back at sea, often dead or dying. In other fisheries, bycatch is landed but cannot be sold.

    Levels of bycatch vary greatly from one fishery to the next. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 7 million tonnes of fish bycatch is discarded globally by commercial fishermen every year...

Bycatch: One of the most shocking aspects of ocean pillaging.

    Bycatch refers to all the forms of marine life caught unintentionally while catching other fish. Bycatch can include the wrong size of the target species, other species that are not eaten or for which there is no market and banned or endangered species such as certain birds, turtles and marine mammals.

    Some fish are discarded because the fishing boat is not licensed to bring them to land, because there is no space on the boat or because the captain has decided not to catch that species. The great proportion of bycatch, millions of tons each year, is thrown back into the sea dead or wounded.

    A recent WWF report estimates that bycatch represents 40% of global marine catches, and that in many cases the fish discarded are juveniles. It is easy to grasp what dramatic consequences such devastation has on the ability of a species to reproduce and regenerate stocks.

    Beyond the pressure on marine species, bycatch represents a monstrous waste of food, for both humans and marine predators.

    Experts emphasize that while industrial fishing boats throw millions of tons of undesired fish back in the sea each year, artisanal fishing discards are very small.

    Poison and Explosives

    The use of poison to kill or stun fish is very common, in both fresh and salt water, including coastal lagoons and coral reefs. Cyanide fishing, for example, is used on the now-devastated reefs of the Philippines – where an estimated 65 tons of cyanide are poured into the sea each year – and those in eastern Indonesia and other western Pacific countries.

    In many places the use of poison to catch fish is a traditional technique, but negative effects have multiplied since plant-based substances were replaced by chemical poisons. These kill all the organisms in the ecosystem, including the corals forming the reef.

    The use of explosives for blast fishing has also been around for centuries and is on the increase. Explosions can produce very large craters, devastating between 10 and 20 square meters of the sea floor. They kill not only the target fish, but all the other surrounding fauna and flora. In coral reefs, reconstruction of the damaged habitats can take decades.

    Explosives are easily and cheaply purchased and often come from the mining or building industries. In many regions, explosives are extracted from old munitions from past wars or current conflicts. Elsewhere, fishermen buy them through the illegal arms trade.

    Ghost Fishing

    Ghost fishing is the result of nets and other fishing materials that are accidentally or intentionally abandoned in the sea. These nets continue to senselessly trap fish and shellfish and even large marine mammals, which die of exhaustion or suffocation after struggling to get to the surface to breathe. The problem of abandoned or lost equipment has been amplified by increased fishing activity and the introduction of nets and line made from long-lasting synthetic material.

From Reef Education Network
Destruction of Ocean by Commercial / Recreationally Fishing and Tourism.

    Unsound fishing methods - trawling is regarded as one of the most environmentally dubious fishing methods. It is estimated that 70% of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon is trawled at least once a year, impacting on the bottom living (benthic) communities.
    The impacts of recreational fishing have been largely un-monitored, but studies suggest that the recreational catch for some species is substantially greater than the commercial catch, accounting for up to 90% of some estuarine fish and more than 50% of all fish caught in the Great Barrier Reef.

    On the east and south coast of Australia, it is estimated that the recreational catch for some species is as much, or more than the commercial catch.

    For example there is a big problem with albatross being caught and killed by long-line fishing, and sharks and dolphins are victims of the tuna fishing industry.

    The reef is often injured in a number of physical ways - anchors, nets and boats damage the actual structure of the reef and fishing line and litter in the water cause entanglement of all kinds of sealife.

    In many parts of the world, especially Asian and South-West Pacific reefs, destructive fishing methods are often used to try and get bigger catches, or catch specific fish for the Asian restaurant market.

    Cyanide is often used to kill large fish such as Napolean (or Humphead) Wrasse that hide in caves when chased, and this technique may kill other fish and sessile life as well. The reef is often then torn apart to get to the dead fish in its hole. The monetary incentive to get every last fish is too hard for most poor fishermen to resist.

    Use of dynamite to stun fish is one of the most destructive activities of man on the reef, reulting in complete destruction of areas of the reef and the death of many other animals than the fish that is the target. In western countries, collecting by the general public has the potential to harm reef populations because people are often uneducated about the laws that limit the size and sex of species that may be collected.

    The incredible diversity of life in these areas means that they are very attractive to scuba divers, snorkellers and reef walkers.

    This creates a physical threat to the actual reef structure as 'reef walking' breaks the Calcium skeletons of the coral and decreases the amount of areas that are good for the animals and plants to live on.

    The same thing happens with careless scuba divers and snorkellers who break or squash fragile corals and other marine life because they are not careful. Indirectly tourism affects reef ecosystems through the building of resort and holiday areas close to reefs to allow people to enjoy the areas.

    This brings problems with sewage disposal and increased runoff causing sedimentation and eutrophication ( See our "Catchment" section). Careful management of the tourist industry on reefs can minimise the harmful effects of tourism. The development of a strong economic incentive to keep reefs in a healthy state to maintain the income from tourism is necessary.

    Drilling for oil and gas pose a threat to reef life through physical strucural damage, pollution due to waste disposal and spills from the rigs, and problems with the shipping associated with transporting the oil or other commodities through the reef waters.

    Oil causes great damage to ecosystems when it comes into contact with plants and animals, and it is possible that oil can harm invertebrate larvae in the ocean - affecting colonisation on reefs long distances away.

    Often trying to clean up oil spills with chemicals or hot water does more damage than the spill itself.

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Fossil Fuel Waste

To raise livestock, fossil fuels are needed to make fertilizer. Fossil fuels are needed to produce pesticides to protect crops. Fossil fuels are needed to run agricultural machine to sow, tend, and harvest the crops. These crops are then feed back to livestock. Then fossil fuels are needed to generate electricity to maintain livestock quarters, process, freeze, and transport their carcasses.

List of energy-intensive stages of food growing processes

  • Make fertilizers for crops that are feed to animals
  • Grow massive amounts of corn, grain, and soybeans (with all the required tilling, irrigation, crop dusters, and so on)
  • Harvesting and getting rid of husks
  • Transport the grain and soybeans to manufacturers in pollution-spewing 18-wheelers
  • Operate the feed mills (requires massive energy expenditures)
  • Transport the feed to the factory farms (with energy inefficient vehicles)
  • Operate the factory farms
  • Truck the animals many miles to slaughter
  • Operate the slaughterhouse
  • Transport the meat to processing plants
  • Operate the meat-processing plants
  • Transport the meat to grocery stores
  • Keep the meat refrigerated or frozen in the stores, until it's sold.

    Every one of these steps produces heavy pollutions and greenhouse gases, and uses up enormous amounts of energy. Considering US live stock population is a lot more then US human population, this is no brainer.

Most of us turn off the lights when we leave a room and attempt to conserve energy in other ways, but not eating meat is the most effective and resource saving thing we can do. If we Americans cut our meat consumption to 5% or less in our entire diet, our oil problems would be virtually non existent.

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Hunger and Environmental Destruction

It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat, and even fish in fish farms must be fed 5 pounds of wild caught fish to produce one pound of farmed fish flesh, which in turn are either caught in the wild or grown in fish farm with grains. All land animals require many times more calories from grains and legumes than they can possibly return in the form meat.

About 20% of the world's population, which is about 1.4 billion people, can be fed solely with amount of the grain and soybeans that goes to US beef production. Meat raising is the cause of world hunger and war.

Also meat eating increases sex and eating desire. This result population increase and waste of more foods. Keep in mind that majority women in third world are living unsanitary condition without birth control. They also do not have right and option to say no when men demands to have sex with them. This leads to population increase, which then leads to more hunger.

In developed countries increased eating and sex desire leads to obesity and unplanned parenthood such as teenager pregnancy. Sounds familiar?

In many cultures, meat eating is considered 'manly.' This kinds of belief that promotes meat eating adds to incredible amount of human and animal suffering, which adds to catastrophic environment devastation. This is not an overstatement using metaphor. This is the truth. To read in detail about how meat eating destroy the environment, just look at the table of contents of this page and read the corresponding sections.

People may think eating fish is not as bad as eating meat in terms of environmental destruction. Not so. Fishery is the major cause of underwater environmental destruction. To read more about how meat raising cause land and ocean environmental destruction, read Water Contamination and Ocean Contamination by Fishery Industry and Fish Farming.

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Land Use and Desertification

As many parts of world develop and preference for meat increases, across the globe huge land areas are cleared to raise crops to feed livestock. From tropical rain forests in Brazil to ancient pine forests in China, entire ecosystems are being destroyed to fuel addiction to meat.

According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, area equal to 7 football fields is bulldozed every minute in the world. Majority of these are used to create more fields for crops that feed livestock. Therefore, each vegetarian saves 1 acre of trees every year (a vegan saves even more trees).

Of all the agricultural land in the US, nearly 80% is used in some way to raise livestock animals. That 80% of land mass is about half of total land mass of US. More than 260 million acres (= 406,250 square miles) of forest had been cleared to get this agricultural land.

In the US and around the world, grazing by livestock leads to the food shortage of native animals, thus leads to the extinction of native plants and animal species. Livestock grazing is the number one cause of more endangered and extinct species both in the US and the world. Also these once fertile lands suffer soil erosion due to overgrazing then eventually turning into a wasteland or a desert.

Philip Fradkin, from the National Audubon Society said, "The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and subdivision developments combined." Therefore negatively impact native species which were eating the same native vegetation for millions of years and lived in original land forms.

1/3 of earth is desert and expanding every year. One of the biggest reason is this: 1/4 of earth is steppes and plains. Steppes and plains are areas where trees cannot grow because rain fall is too small. These are not suitable for agriculture due to small rainfall. These lands are very sensitive to even little bit of change and they would lose soil fertility even with chemical fertilizers. This in turn turns steppes and plains into the deserts.

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Rainforest Devastation

Of all land use, the most devastating land use is destruction of rain forest.

This is because rain forest has very important role for entire earth eco system. Why is rain forest so important? Rain forest moderate severe weather patterns (talk about hurricanes!). Rainforests convert carbon dioxide into oxygen 27 tons per acre per year. Some 120 prescription drugs sold worldwide today are derived directly from rainforest plants. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, more than 2/3 of all medicines with anti-cancer properties come from rainforest plants.

Some of the compounds found in rainforest plants are used to treat malaria, heart disease, bronchitis, hypertension, rheumatism, diabetes, muscle tension, arthritis, glaucoma, dysentery, tuberculosis, and others. Many commercially available anesthetics, enzymes, hormones, laxatives, cough mixtures, antibiotics, and antiseptics are also derived from rainforest plants and herbs. But only 1% of the total number of plants in rain forest has been studied for medicinal properties.

Rainforests are also the primary gene pools for most wheat, coffee, and other food upon which we depend upon.

According to Greenpeace, more than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed between year 2004 and 2005 in order to grow crops that feed livestock animals. 80% of the world's soy crop that are used feeds the livestock animals now comes from the rainforest. On the other hand, soy that is used in veggie burgers, tofu, and soy milk in the US comes almost exclusively within the US.

Nowadays, rain forest area that is more then 1.7 times of Indiana land mass every year is disappearing due to the following: lumber industry, coffee plantation, oil and mineral mining, dairy and meat production. This is same rate as 2 football fields disappearing in every second. It is matter of time before rain forest disappears – unless people stop doing what they are doing – that is stop throwing out furniture when it is in perfectly good shape, stop wasting papers, stop eating meat every day, and stop drinking coffee.

During last 60 million years, more then 40% of the primary tropical rainforest has been destroyed in last 60 recent years. Mankind destroys 17 million trees worldwide every day. If that area is measured yearly, it is more than 3 times land mass of Switzerland.

In 1990's rainforests had about 90% of earth's plant and animal species which include 80 million insect species and 11 million different plants. An area of 1,000 acres of typical primary rainforest contains as many as 600 species of flowering plants, 280 species of trees, 600 types of butterflies, 40 types of reptiles, and 24 species of amphibians.

In 2007, Tropical rain forest occupies 3% of land and more then 50% of all species on earth live there. What little rain forest we have is extremely important.

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Air Pollution and Global Warming

Raising animals for their flesh, eggs, and milk is one of the world's leading cause of increase in carbon dioxide (CO2). Eating 1lb. of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gasses as driving an SUV 40 miles. Virtually every step of the meat production produces greenhouse gasses. However, CO2 is small potato compare to the methane and nitrous oxide these livestock animals produce, which is 70 to 300 times more potent.

Of these carbon dioxides, half of them dissolve into ocean and raise acidity of sea which could be lethal for many sea creatures. Acid dissolve seashells, therefore all the exoskeleton creatures are at risk. Acidification also affects microorganisms. Microorganisms can affect all sea areas.

Two types of gas produced by livestock animals are far worse then carbon dioxide in terms of global warming. They are methane and nitrous oxide. Animal agriculture is the primary source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Methane released into atmosphere heats up the atmosphere 20 times more than CO2. In terms of effect on global warming, methane is 72-100 times more potent than CO2 in first 20 year period of its existence. Of all global methane emissions, livestock produce 37% of all emission, making the single largest source of methane.

The billions of farmed animals crammed into factory farms produce enormous amounts of methane, both during animal digestion process and from the many large cesspools filled with livestock feces. Statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency show that animal agriculture is the number one source of methane emissions in the U.S.

Nitrous Oxide:
According to the UN, the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for a 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous Oxide is 310 times more potent than CO2 in terms of global warming effect.

There is more devastating effect from this: methane and nitrous oxide caused global warming also melts polar ice caps which releases methane and CO2 trapped in the ice caps and in the cold oceans.

There are other types of gasses produced from livestock animals, which are hydrogen sulfides and ammonia, which should be addressed in terms of effect on human health and other environment pollutant.

Hydrogen Sulfide:
Hydrogen Sulfide is one of the major toxic pollutants from the animal industry. It can cause death from just one inhale at concentrations as low as 1000 parts per million. Also, hydrogen sulfide formed in this process depletes oxygen in the air.

Ammonia is a main cause of acid rain and ecosystem acidification. The EPA reports that roughly 80% of ammonia emissions in the US come from animal urine and waste.


In 2006, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had estimated that raising animals for meat and dairy was responsible for 18% of global warming. This is more than the entire world' transportation put together. However, many experts say that this is a very low figure. The actual figure is much more then this, but downplayed due to politics surrounding agro-business. Figures assessed by other experts indicate that at least 50% of all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are from meat and dairy production process.

Dr. Kirk Smith, the Professor of University of California Berkeley and UN IPCC member said that we have to deal with CO2 in the long run. But if we want to make an impact on climate change now and next 20 years, the place to do is the shorter lived greenhouse gases, most importantly methane. In 2006, the CO2 emissions was about 40% of the total warming. The other 60% or more of global warming was from the shorter lived gases, most importantly from methane.

Melting of polar ice caps due to global warming may bring extinction of many species in and around the Polar Regions. Considering that both Polar Regions are the largest wildlife areas of the world, this can be catastrophic to many wildlife.

There is another side of danger in losing polar ice caps. During 1979 and 1999, Arctic ice area twice size of the state of Texas was lost. This is same as 5 times area of UK.

If all Greenland ice melts, the sea level will rise as much as 7 meters (= 23 feet). Remember that half of all humanity lives around coastal zone.

Also sea ice is so white and bright, it reflect sun energy right back to space. However, dark deep ocean color absorb sun light so much more then the ice cap, thus acerbating global warming even further.

By the way, the major source carbon dioxide production is not car or industrial activities. Take a look at this:

In an average western households:

  • Half of all CO2 emissions are from domestic activity.
  • Transporting food accounts 10% of all carbon emissions.
  • 3 degree Celsius of heat raise in house during winter equates 1 tone of carbons per year.
  • 10% of all power is wasted through standby mode in domestic electronic products.
  • Each car produce approximate 10 tones of carbons per year.
  • In UK, one household emits 25 tons of carbon per year.

Therefore, in any and every respect, individual choice makes paramount differencenot government policies.

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Human Workers and Animal Welfare

Animals on modern factory farms are deprived of everything that is natural to them. If they were cats and dogs and treated in the same way, it would guarantee felony as a "cruelty to animals" charge.

How they are treated is horrendous. For example, chickens' beaks are sliced off without anesthesia, and with a hot blade (so when they go mad in such crammed area, they would not peck each other). Pigs' tails are chopped off and their teeth clipped without anesthesia with pliers (so when they go mad in such crammed area, they would not bite each other).

Male cows and pigs are castrated without anesthesia. The animals are confined to crowded, filthy warehouses which are not cleaned up as often as they should be. They are dosed with powerful drugs that make them grow very quickly that their hearts and limbs often cannot keep up. As a result, they frequently become crippled and/or suffer from heart attacks when they're only a few weeks old.

During the transporting animals, these animals suffer heat, cold, and rain in an open air, in crowded pens in which they cannot even lie down or turn around. At the slaughterhouse, chickens and cows are hung upside down and their throats are slit, often while they are still conscious. Cattle are trashing, bellowing and blinking while being carved and skinned. These are very few details of horrors that is going on every day in the factory farm – if you watch documentary Earthlings, then you will know this is true.

Employees of livestock industry suffer as well. This business has a 100% turn over rate and is 80 times more dangerous than coal mining.

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Mental Illness, Moral Decline, Increased Consumption, Overpopulation, Destruction of Earth

One of the major reasons for increased meat consumption is, people are addicted to it for a couple of reason. First, eating meat increases eating desire due to purin in the meat. Second, people say they feel more energized due to high hormone in the meat.

Generally, meat is high in hormone and body chemicals because injected hormones which makes animal grow faster. Also when animals are killed, the pain and death stress induces hormonal release to the muscles, which are loads of chemicals corresponding negative emotions as well.

Animals which are forcibly killed invariably resist and try to survive. Every emotion have corresponding chemical in human and animal body. When animals die, they release chemicals corresponds to fear, panic, and stress to its body. So those chemicals are all over in the meat and blood.

Also, reflecting the kinds of treatment they get during they are raised, even if they had died in humane way, their body is loaded with chemicals which corresponds to the negative emotions such as despair, hopelessness, suicidal / homicidal thoughts etc.,

When animals are in danger, hormones get released which enable to use above normal muscle power in order to help escape dangerous situation. When a person eats meat, the same hormone makes the person feel more energized as well.

When a person eats meat on daily basis, these same hormones makes the person feel more energize, at the same time more impatient and easily irritable. As the society in whole, these accumulate – they may not lead to an event, but it certainly does not help society to become kind and calm.

A person who eats meat every day, may get daily temporary energy boost every day, but because of hormonal intake from meat, the body produce less hormone. This makes a person to have less energy in a long run. This diminished hormone level production within human body which also affects level of sex hormone. Diminished sex hormone level accelerates body aging, which are why in general meat lovers and meat eaters body ages faster.

This hormone overloaded meat makes a person to stay at over stimulated state. This leads to desensitization of bodily senses because brain ignores any prolonged stimulation. As a result, the person needs to get higher dose of stimulation in order to get same level of pleasure from the same type of external stimuli. This tends to lead a person to increased consumption of all areas of life, materialism, and seeking new types of stimulation and thrills.

Also meat has many nitrogen compounds including urea (=carbamide =(NH2)2CO), uric acid, and purin (a type of nitrogenous base). Purin stimulates and excites our cell, especially nerve cells and brain cells, which results increased eating and sex desires. If you have read the section, Hunger and Environmental Destruction you will see how this adds world hunger, misery for women in third world, and teenage pregnancy in US.

Natural hormone in our body does not give any side effect and any potential danger such as addiction. However, human body develops tolerance level to hormones in meat just like drug. As a result, the person needs to eat more and more meat in order to get that same stimulation and feelings of power.

Due to nervous system desensitization and increased desire to eat, meat addiction is not confined to meat addiction itself, but also leads other to addictions to stimulants such as coffee. Overstimulation also makes a person difficult to rest deeply and properly to recharge the body, which may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. Addiction to coffee also plays major role in chronic fatigue syndrome. Click here to read more about chronic fatigue syndrome. Click here to read more about coffee.

As a person passes mid 30's, middle age sets in and natural hormone diminishes. Some people may argue because of this, a human have to eat meat in order to keep up. Not so. The meat may add hormone, but it continually diminishes body's natural ability to produce own hormone until it debilitates. Not to mention everything else in meat leads to destruction of human health.

Human are not meant to live with brute force and compete physically with other animals. Human are endowed with big brain and meant to use this. It is almost like for first 35 years of human life, higher hormonal release was compensation for weaker brain power during those years to help a person until the person develops enough brain power. Considering over 90% of people use less then 1% of brain, one can see how majority of people are neglecting development of the most important organ for human.

Meat has many nitrogen compounds including Urea (carbamide (NH2)2CO), uric acid, and purin (a type of nitrogenous base). Purin stimulates and excites our cell, especially nerve and brain cells, thus increases eating and sex desires.

Brain cells communicate by exchanging chemicals between synapses. The entire neuron is surrounded and protected by myelin sheath. Myelin sheathes are individual cells, also called Schwann cells, that surrounds and protects neuron body. If Schwann cells is damaged, the neuron's ability to send message is damaged. This can lead to many different mental symptoms, such as: decreased level of awareness and concentration (ex. attention deficit syndrome), erratic behavior, seizure, etc.

To repair Schwann cells, (=myelin sheathes), progesterone (a type of sex hormone) is helpful. Progesterone is produced in adrenaline gland. However, the hormones in animal meat disrupts progesterone's role and is also related to other mental diseases. It should be also noted that refined sugar and refined flour – commonly called white sugar and white flour – damage adrenaline gland, thus reduce ability to produce progesterone.

To read detailed explanation how refined flour and refined sugar can damage adrenaline gland, please read a section in the refined flour.

Another important factor that contributes to the health of myelin sheath, other then these acids is omega-3. In order for brain cell to maintain fluidity of cell membrane and recognize message correctly, both Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids are required. Americans get too much of Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3. The ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6 should be 1:1 to 1:4, but average Americans' ratio is 1:20 to 1:40.

Omega-3 depletion results depression. According to a clinical study, people with different level of EPA in their red blood cell were separated into 4 different groups, top 25%, second 25%, third 25%, and the last 25%. Comparing these groups, the lowest 25% group had suicide rate increase in 8%.



In order to get more intense stimulation, consumption increased in all areas of life in order to meet the same level of pleasure and excitation to meet one's desire – resulting impulsiveness, materialism, and constant seeking of new stimulation and thrills.

Natural hormone in our body does not give any side effect and any potential danger such as addiction. However, human body develops tolerance level to hormones in meat is just like drug. A person needs to eat more and more meat in order to get that same stimulation and feelings of power.

Due to nervous system desensitization and increased desire to eat, meat addiction is not confined to meat addiction itself, but also leads other to addictions to stimulants such as coffee. Overstimulation also makes a person difficult to rest deeply and properly to recharge the body, which may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome. Addiction to coffee also plays major role in chronic fatigue syndrome. Click here to read more about chronic fatigue syndrome. Click here to read more about coffee.

As a person passes mid 30's, middle age sets in and natural hormone diminishes. Some people may argue because of this, a human have to eat meat in order to keep up. Not so. The meat may add hormone, but it continually diminishes body's natural ability to produce own hormone until it debilitates. Not to mention everything else in meat leads to destruction of human health.

This is all caused by desire to eat meat. Since if there is no demand, there will be no supply, thus consumers are the most responsible ones rather then these heartless agro-business owners who put these poor animals into horrendous abuse.

Often times in the countries of Latin America and Middle East, and other third world countries, women do not have any rights to refuse sexual advances of men.

In some countries, whoever the woman is slept with the first time, the women must marry the man, even if it was a rape case. Many adolescent women are targets of lecherous older men, and if these men rape these young women she has to marry this rape offender, which is often the case.

These third world countries demand women's right, but they also try to follow afterward western standard to eat meat. Look at what we are promoting with our example. Our mainstream culture must change at least to avoid hypocrisy.

Drug addiction, addiction to coffee, addiction to sugar, unplanned teenage pregnancy, increased hunger, increased misery of women and children of third world, and materialism; all these get worse just by increased in meat consumption.

And just think about the environmental destructionwater contamination, ocean pollution, green house effect, and rain forest destruction – not to mention suffering of animals in horrendous scale.

By the way, anyone thinks animal abuse is not so bad, they should watch the documentary, Earthlings.

This is what Albert Einstein said going vegetarian would do for humanity.

    "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

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Even if impending future environmental catastrophe from the global warming is ignored, it very obvious how much damage meat production does to our immediate environment and health.

However, this subject is something relatively new for majority of people. Therefore, it may be of some use to get a realistic sense of what meat eating does to our life. Let's start by asking this question.

What kind of dangers should we protect ourselves from? Let's answer this question by looking at the cause of US mortality rate.

In US 2005, people were killed because of:

  • Cardiovascular disease – 685,089
  • Cancers – 556,902
  • Strokes – 160,000 (very conservative estimate)
  • Obesity – 112,000 (very conservative estimate)
  • Auto accidents – 42,636
  • Violent crimes – 16,911 in 2005 and similar numbers of people every year
  • Terrorism – 0 people (It killed 3100 people in September 11, 2001 and none other years)
  • Plane accidents – usually none (but gets more then lion's share of news coverage)

    Experts estimate that up to 80% of the major diseases and premature death US could be prevented by changes in diet and lifestyle.

    According to medical professions, 300,000 Americans die from weight related diseases every year, making fat the country's #2 cause of preventable deaths. Smoking is #1 cause of death in US.

If you are a parent and have a kid, consider this:
    About 250,100 toy related injuries are reported to hospital in US every year. 185,900 of them were kids under 15.

Consider this as well:

Every year around the world, people who are killed:
  • By dogs are around 500,000 to 1,000,000
  • By coconuts are around 25
  • By sharks are around 10

The point is, what is commonly regarded as most dangerous things to our lives are not as dangerous as it turns out to be or insignificant. Rather, the most dangers ones are the ones that we are most familiar and intimate with, often with feelings of insignificance and/or benevolence.

Indeed, to at least find what is relatively correct (since absolute correctness is indeed a thing which is very hard to find) in terms of truth perspective of reality, it is essential to examine every "common ground" that people stand as "normal."

I do not want to say any definite conclusion because that would sound didactic. Instead, I leave it to the readers to think about the question suggested after reading this page.


Helpful Notes in Going Vegan

To read why human don't need to eat meat at least as much as people generally think, click here. That same page also talks about meat nutrition.

If you are thinking about going vegan, it is also strongly recommended to avoid white flour / bread / rice and white sugar (click on the links to read about why). Otherwise you are not going to get benefits of going vegan, but feel tired and go back eating meat.

Regarding mental health, in order to increase brain stability and maintain optimum state, avoid all animal protein including milk and egg. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, raw nuts and raw seeds are best.

Also, click here to read a comprehensive list about how you should eat in order to go vegan diet successfully.

If you want to get even more comprehensive report about how meat production / eating pollutes earth with all the scientific citations, read this report – United States Leads World Meat Stampede.

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