Animal Agriculture And The Environment Essay

1531 words - 7 pages

Humans have a major impact on the environment. The choice between vegetarianism and a meat-inclusive diet also makes a difference on the environment. Vegetarianism is the practice of excluding meat from your diet. There are six main types of vegetarianism: lacto-ovo, vegan, macrobiotic, fruitarian, raw-foods diet, and natural-hygiene diet. The two most common types of vegetarianism are lacto-ovo (consuming animal products like dairy but no meat), and vegan (consuming no animal products at all). Meat-inclusive diets are made possible with animal agriculture, the farming system of raising animals for slaughter. Both diet types, vegetarian and meat-inclusive, include the farming of edible plants, but meat-inclusive diets also include the additional steps of feeding the crops to the livestock and then slaughtering them for meat products before shipping the food items for human consumption. These additional steps require that more plants be grown for the livestock to consume (called feed crops), before a final product is produced. Through animal agriculture, copious amounts of water and land resources are used and air pollutants are produced. While all agriculture is destructive, animal agriculture is far more harmful to the environment than vegetarianism.
Water is one of the largest environmental issues the world faces today. Year after year new efforts and regulations to conserve and clean water are put into regulation. The spread of vegetarianism is great for a thirsty world since it uses only a small part of the water used by animal agriculture. With only eight percent of the world’s water used for animal agriculture, this would be a great savings. In the United States of America alone, one-third of usable water goes to animal agriculture. Some reports claim that animal agriculture uses seventy percent of the human-accessible usable water. So much water is used to hydrate animals which are then slaughtered to produce a small amount of meat. Meat products need much more water than the feed crops used to produce them. For one pound of beef it requires two-thousand five-hundred gallons of water. For one pound of tofu, a common vegetarian substitute for meat, it requires only two-hundred twenty gallons of water. For one pound of potatoes, it requires a meager twenty-four gallons of water. The average person only requires a recommended sixty-four ounces of water daily, which is half a gallon. So if one consumed this much water daily for thirteen years, they would still not have consumed enough water that is required to produce one pound of beef. Animal agriculture is also ranked as the largest sectorial source of water pollution. Fifty-seven percent of lake pollution and sixty-four percent of river pollution comes from animal agriculture. Chemical runoff and animal excrement is the biggest reason for this large amount, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. With about eight billion pounds of waste produced a day in animal agriculture, the...

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