Vegetarianism and the environment…

Vegetarianism, based on the concept of not eating meat, has been recognised by science to have huge positive physical impacts: decreasing illness, improving mental health and lengthening lifespan by 10 years on average; although many converts continue to choose the lifestyle based on the latest dietary trends or whatever shows up on the weekly fitness flavour of magazines. Though I’m not complaining, as those who are dedicated to the lifestyle get to enjoy the benefits no meat consumption has on our world, and believe me… there are many. Infact, this was the factor that converted myself to the diet, being both interested and motivated to make a few alterations for the Earth’s sake.

In this article I’d like to shed some light on the impact an animal based diet has on the environment’s resources, the future of meat consumption and the major problems currently faced. Perhaps knowing the facts behind vegetarianism will help some appreciate the lifestyle more or maybe even change you..

THE TOLL ON OCEANS
The meat industry is undoubtedly huge. 70% of the Earth’s thawed out surface is reserved for livestock- rearing space or food. The problem with this is that this 70% of space is causing issues for our natural world. Today, 35,000 miles of American rivers are polluted with animal waste, that’s an area twice as big as Wales and bigger than Switzerland. These giant areas are called ‘dead zones’, much like the name implies, marine life cannot survive or inhabit with these zones floating around and polluting the water. Filled with animal waste, carcasses etc. sea creatures are literally robbed from their homes by the remains of an industry built on the slaughter of other animals. Even more worrying, 70% of water is already put in to the farming industry, leading to an endless cycle of water usage and pollution that if you think about it… can easily be prevented.

EMISSIONS AND ESSENTIAL FORESTRY
Logically, to explain the 230 million tonnes of animals the world eats each year, there must be a pretty big space to look after these creatures. We already know that 70% of the world’s surface is used for farming. However, things get really bad when you think about the amount of forestry being torn down to satisfy this rearing of cattle. It’s horrendous. Trees provide oxygen, medicine, they stop floods, take in harmful carbon dioxide yet they are being axed for an industry that overproduces and kills animals. Farmers who live near forestry are often poor and unfortunately their livelihood is to rear animals by tearing up trees or selling deforested land to Dubai or Britain.

This usually surprises people and I was taken aback to learn that animal production causes more emissions than all the planes, cars and vehicles put together. It is the primary source of greenhouse gases and still nobody talks about cutting our carnivore diet? We can use public transport and electrical cars forever but if we don’t limit our animal eating than the life still looks bleak.

THE FUTURE FOR HUMANS

Touching on this quickly, 3 billion more people are expected on our Earth. That’s more meat than ever, more land needed than ever and water. We need to think about decreasing our consumption in order to lessen impact and selflessly make room for other people. Land will also have to be shared between housing, green space and more businesses. In terms of world hunger, you know I’m going to say; no meat consumption is a positive thing. The crops that animals who are solely being used for the meat industry eat, could definitely be used to feed the 1 billion people who go hungry every day. A solution is given, what are we going to do?

I hope that this has given a bigger insight into how subtracting chicken, beef, lamb and pork etc. from one’s life can really open up our world. This was not intended to be a balanced argument as I really wanted to focus on what vegetarianism can do for our world, and it can do a lot! Now that you know, now that science knows I hope more people will try to adopt this type of lifestyle because the world has so much to lose, compared to the population having a salad over steak and chips…

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Rosie Jones

Environmental Studies student in Winchester, UK.

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1 Response

  1. Ben says:

    A lot of good points made here, although you could have maybe mentioned the impacts of growing crops too. Not just the huge amount of land taken up but the impact of pesticides/fertilisers etc. Although things are much better in the developed world than the times of Silent Spring, as that book says, many of the pesticides we used still have an impact today. Plain and simple there are too many people, we will reach a point soon where we can’t support ourselves anymore.

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