Food Choice and Global Depletion

There is an ‘Elephant in the Room’ that nobody in conservation or climate change is talking about, and it’s strange, bordering on insane…

"What are all of the conservation groups doing about the problem of global warming and destruction of our environment? Surely they must know of the global depletion/food choice connection and are doing something about it, right? No. The answer is they are not. All of these groups are concerned with climate change, however, they are focusing on the wrong issues- refusing to make any statements about the profound effects eating animals has on the environment - despite the fact that it does, and despite the fact that we entrust them to preserve and protect our planet." ~ Dr Richard Oppenlander, author of ‘Comfortably Unaware’

If you are not aware of the effects of the meat industry on global depletion of resources such as land, water, soil and its effect on species loss, poverty of course global warming, not to mention the overfishing of the seas, then it’s possible that the conservation groups you trust have either misled you, or simply don’t know, which in itself is alarming.

Look at this page to see the facts:

The fact is, climate change is very real; it’s occurring now and worsening, and the situation is urgent. Human activities producing GHG emissions significantly affect climate change. Raising animals is one of the largest contributors to anthropogenic GHG emissions and, therefore, human-induced climate change. Meat production produces more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation with direct emissions from meat production accounting for some 18% of world’s total.

One of the human-caused factors is deforestation. Some people find it difficult to relate deforestation to their own actions, but even if the meat you are eating doesn’t directly come from the rain forest area, it still has an impact, because with every bite of meat you eat, you essentially create demand. You are asking the meat industry to raise more livestock.

“The livestock sector is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. The total area occupied by grazing is equivalent to 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to feed-crop production amounts to 33 percent of total arable land. In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet.

Expansion of livestock production is a key factor in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring – 70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feed-crops cover a large part of the remainder. About 20 percent of the world’s pastures and range lands, with 73 percent of range lands in dry areas, have been degraded to some extent, mostly through overgrazing, compaction and erosion created by livestock action.” ~ Livestock’s Long Shadow, LEAD

When we lose rain-forests, all of the following occurs:

Loss of biodiversity

Depletion of soil

Disruption of water cycle

Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change

Loss of ability to produce oxygen

Flooding and drought cycles increased

Loss of medicinal/anti-cancer plants

Loss of indigenous tribes

With reference to critically endangered species, it's worth mentioning that we are losing species of life as well as ecosystems on Earth at an unprecedented and alarming rate, estimated to be anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times the “background rate” - that which had been seen for the previous several thousands of years. Therefore, it is this massive rate of extinction rather than number of loss that becomes a more meaningful metric and cause for concern.

Habitat loss is far and away the most pervasive threat to terrestrial animal species, impacting 86% of all mammals, 88% of amphibians, and 86% of all birds. One in every eight birds, one in every three amphibians and one in every four mammals is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future.

What causes the habitat loss? With estimates of 45% of all the land mass on Earth used by animal agriculture and 1 to 2 trillion fish extracted from our oceans each year (by fishing methods such as trawling, purse seine, long lines, explosives and other techniques that are damaging ecosystems) - eating animals (fishing and livestock production) is the largest contributing factor in habitat loss. About 80% of all rain forest loss is due to raising cattle with another 10% due to growing crops to feed them.

More than one third of the world’s grain harvest is used to feed livestock. While corn is a staple food in many Latin American and Sub-Saharan countries, worldwide it is used largely as feed. Wheat is more evenly divided between food and feed and is a staple food in many regions such as the West, China and India. The total cattle population for the world is approximately 1.3 billion occupying some 24% of the land of the planet. Some 70 to 80% of grain produced in the United States is fed to livestock. Half the water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow grain for cattle feed. A gallon of gasoline is required to produce a pound of grain-fed beef.

The livestock population of the US consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than 5 times its human population. 90% of all corn and 80% of all grains and beans grown in the US are used to feed livestock animals.

Poverty is also a consequence of the meat industry. 82% of the world’s starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals that are then killed and eaten by more well off individuals in developed countries like the US, UK, and in Europe.  One fourth of all grain produced by third world countries is now given to livestock.

In summary, it should be obvious that one cannot call oneself a conservationist while consuming animals. It’s both logically and ethically inconsistent.