Being vegan, I often am reprimanded discussing my eating habits.
Sayings such as “Why don’t you just keep it to yourself?” or “let others eat how
they want, it’s not hurting you any to have them eat meat.”
Well I am sorry, my misinformed friend, but they are.
Industrial agriculture, developed in the 1970s from President Nixon’s
Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, is most commonly recognized and disputed
for the large-scale containment and slaughtering of about 10 billion land animals
annually in the United States. However, the process of factory farming has
extended far past the massacre of living creatures in the past 45 years.
Butz’s free-market policy quickly made the agribusiness controversial in
the eyes of small farms and businesses, originally persuading farmers to produce
at a greater output and sell products overseas in order to raise income amongst
farms in America
This policy did in fact raise farm income due to huge grain shipments in
1972 to the Soviet Union, but the average American consumer ended up paying
more for food.
“Before we go back to organic agriculture, somebody is going to have to
decide what 50 million people we are going to let starve,” Butz would respond to
environmentalists when confronted about the use of fertilizers and pesticides for
rapid growth. He further explained that if housewives did not have “such a low
level of economic intelligence” they would comprehend the increase of price for
food saying, “you can’t get more by paying less.” It is no surprise that Butz was
not only the beginning of big business in agriculture, but the conception of
criticism as well.
Abusing land and natural resources for a greater production of output,
factory farming unfortunately is one of many unstable practices in modern
civilization. All for the reaping of mass amounts of unhealthy, and often low-
quality food to distribute throughout the unceasing public.
Large-scale animal factories are responsible for one-third of global
greenhouse emission and the depletion of fossil fuels for transportation, synthetic
fertilizers and pesticides. Should we be worried about feeding the public’s
obsession with pleasure eating, or feeding our environment?
The concern over food security in America has now been surpassed by
the unsettling decline of our ecosystem’s health. Yes, it is important to feed the
populous, but there is a disgraceful amount of pleasure eating and shameful
processes that are conducted to supply this diet. While Big-Ag manufacturers
attempt to justify their unrealistic practices, below is a list of undeniable damage
these implications cause to the Earth alone.
1) Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
emissions, which is more than 20 times the emission of the global
warming potential in carbon dioxide. Harmful compounds such as
ammonia and hydrogen sulfide are released as well, which can cause
immediate negativity on human health.
5.5 gallons of fossil fuels are used per acre in factory farming for
the transportation, synthetic pesticides/fertilizers use, and massive energy
consumption to run the operation, which usually averages to the size of
418-acre span in the United States. Fossil fuels used in factory farming for
energy, transportation, and production of synthetic fertilizers and
pesticides emits 90 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
annually. The majority of crops grown solely to become animal feed are
derived from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that are made from
petroleum, continuing on to be digested by humans after consumption.
2) Water Use
from watering crops to be consumed by the animals, drinking water for the
billions of animals each year, and cleaning the waste in farms, transport
trucks and slaughterhouses. Producing one pound of beef takes an
estimated 1,581 gallons of water that averages to 100 showers.
3) Animal Waste and Water Pollution:
Ever driven by a farm and literally been able to smell it for miles?
Perhaps this is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated
confined farms to generate more than 450 million tons of animal manure
annually. This is three times more raw waste than Americans produce
When manure is repeatedly applied to the farmland it leads to
harmful levels of phosphorous and nitrogen in the public water supply,
with nitrogen robbing water of oxygen and causing hazard to aqua life.
Aside from this, animal waste also contains traces of heavy metals and
salt, which often end up in bodies of water and collects and concentrates
in the sediment.
The EPA estimates that 75 percent of all water-quality issues in
U.S. rivers and streams come from factory farming. Agricultural run-off
polluting water is not only harmful to the ecosystem, but humans and
animals as well.
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations contain large cesspools
that store animal waste, also known as “factory-farm lagoons,” that contain
nitrates and drug-resistant bacteria that have leaked in the past into
waterways. This causes toxic algae blooms, which lead to “dead zones”
in natural water, and are responsible for a massive loss in fish. When
these high levels reach drinking water, they can cause many disease
outbreaks across the U.S.
*Click here to see how animal waste is affecting your local water supply.
260 million acres of natural forests have been cleared in only the
United States alone to make room for crop fields exclusively used to grow
feed for livestock. These land clearing practices have been applied to
many different countries, Brazil being an example, with 3 million acres of
rainforest cleared to grow chicken feed. Another instance is clearing 24
million acres in the Amazon rainforest to grow soybeans, which releases
enough carbon into the atmosphere to raise the rate of global warming by
50 percent. This does not account for the millions of acres cleared for the
construction of factory farms to raise and slaughter the animals.
Single-crop farms are widely used to support the livestock industry,
growing a small group of crops that have taken up a large scale of the
world’s agricultural land. Corn, soybeans, rice and wheat are grown at an
increasing rate, with little of these crops feeding people. This imposes a
risk since it is dangerous to plant millions of acres of generically similar
plants when they thrive under specific environmental conditions. If a
change was to occur, a crop epidemic could rise that is similar to the
Monoculture farming at a large scale relies on copious amounts of
synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to replace the continuously drained
nutrients from the soil and repel insects. If farmers did not rely on
subsidies for the growth of commodity crops, crop fields could contain
more diversity in plant species that would naturally fix nitrogen in soil and
So how do you help?
If you don’t feel comfortable stopping your consumption of meat, limit it.
Reduce the output of factory farming with a small impact. People often make
comments like “your veganism does not make a difference,” or “eating one less
meal of meat a week doesn’t even do anything.” As stated above, one
hamburger is equivalent to 1,581 gallons of water. Want to help even more? Cut
the consumption of animal products completely. The environment, animals and
your body will thank you in the long run.
If you love documentaries and have interest in this subject, I highly
suggest watching Cowspiracy. Able to be seen on Netflix or through free-links on
Google, the film covers the heated topics listed above on the environmental
impact of factory farming and the importance of veganism for our eco-system.