The Consequences of Animal Agriculture


Natalie Dearman, Staff Writer

Many are in denial about the issue of animal agriculture, one of the leading causes of climate change, deforestation, ocean dead zones, and pollution. Animal agriculture alone is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the pollution of all transportation combined. Organizations such as Greenpeace have refused to speak on this issue, but deliberately use water conservation as one of the biggest messages in their campaigns.

However, the truth is that to produce just one pound of beef, it takes about 2,500 gallons of water; it takes 477 gallons to produce one pound of eggs; 900 gallons for a pound of cheese; and 1,000 for a gallon of milk. Not to mention waste–a city of 411,000 people produces the same amount of waste as 2,500 dairy cows.

The Animal Agriculture industry also significantly contributes to world hunger. Currently, enough food is grown to feed roughly 10 billion people, much larger than our current population. However worldwide, humans eat about 21 billions pounds of food a day, and drink 5.2 billion gallons of water. Cows, on the other hand, eat a whopping 135 billion pounds of food, and drink 45 billion gallons of water every single day.

As the demand for the production of meat and animal products increase, so do all of these crazy numbers. For an entire year, it takes about one-sixth of an acre to feed a vegan, three times more for a vegetarian, and about eighteen times as much land as a vegan for a meat-eater. Among these comparisons, while 1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat, that same 1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.

With the momentous amount of land it takes to provide animal products compared to plant-based ones, against the exploding world population and demand for meat production, animal agriculture is simply not a sustainable food source.

So the answer to saving the environment isn’t necessarily shutting off the lights before you leave a room, or taking a shorter shower, but cutting down on animal products as much as you can (or going vegan) and convincing others to do so as well. Because if the demand for animal agriculture decreases, as does the supply and production, and the sustainability of Earth and humanity as a whole for many more years to come, so the change starts with us.