Oh boy, this is a long one! But stay with me! Animal agriculture has all types of negative effects on the environment that are somewhat “hidden” from the public! I’ve tried to summarize here all the major points! If you don’t have time to read through this article, feel free to skip to the header that most interests you. There is a paragraph on water usage + pollution, air pollution, and land usage + destruction!
All of these effects contribute to the reasons that Acorn Cafe will not serve dairy (or any animal products!) As an eco-friendly store, we can’t reconcile being kind to the environment while eating animal products. These two things just don’t go together!
Fresh water is a precious resource. We literally could not live without it. Did you know only 1% of all water on earth is water that humans can actually use? That 1% is fresh water, the other 99% of water on earth is salt water. Fresh water is not something that should be taken for granted! Unfortunately, 55% of all the water that is used in America is used on animal agriculture (and dairy production!) If everyone had a plant based diet we could use so! much! less! water on a regular basis.
One pound of wheat only takes about 25 gallons of water to produce. To produce the same amount of beef it takes 2500 gallons! For reference, the amount of water used in one hamburger is equivalent to the amount of water that would be used if someone ran their shower 24/7 for 3 whole months! It isn’t just hamburgers that use too much water – there are similar statistics for all types of animal agriculture (dairy included.) 477 gallons of water for 1 pound of eggs, 900 gallons of water for 1 pound of cheese, and 1000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of dairy milk. (Sources)
Not only does animal agriculture use soo much water, but it’s also the top cause of water pollution in America. What does animal agriculture pollute the water with? Animal excrement. That’s right… so. much. animal sh*t.
There are an overabundance of animals bred in North America at every minute, and the amount of waste they all produce is absurd. Unfortunately, this waste must go somewhere, and usually the industries decide that it will go in our water.
Animals raised for food produce excrement significantly faster than the human species. Animals in agriculture produce about 130 times more feces than the human population. About 86000 pounds of animal waste are produced per second which equals to 5 to 7 million pounds a minute. This is a huge amount of waste that doesn’t really have anywhere to go. (Source, source)
The water polluted by animal waste is also the cause of all and any E. Coli, salmonella, and listeria outbreaks. Despite popular belief that E. Coli can be sourced from plants, E. Coli only comes only from literal sh*t. Plants don’t produce any, so ultimately any plant with E. Coli has received it from animal agriculture/animal excrement.
This generally happens from lake or river runoff, or from spraying plants with unfiltered water. Sometimes filtered water even does it, considering the MASS amount of waste it tries to sort through, filtration can’t always successfully cleanse this water. (Source)
Animal agriculture is also a major source of air pollution. Animal agriculture releases more green house gas emissions than other any industry. That means even more than the transportation industry, despite popular belief.
Air pollution has the potential to sicken the earth and all its human and non-human inhabitants. The meat, dairy, and egg industries all emit two highly poisonous pollutants – nitrous oxide, and methane. In addition to this, animal agriculture clears and burns rain forests. This process produces 165 pounds of carbon dioxide per hamburger that is produced on that land. (Source) This ends up being 51% of all worldwide CO2/greenhouse gas emissions.
More than that, methane is another air pollutant that can be 86 times more destructive than carbon dioxide. Cows happen to produce 150, 000, 000, 000 gallons of methane per day! (P.s. that’s 150 billion gallons.)
And even nitrous oxide happens to be 296 times more destructive than carbon dioxide. 65% of its human related emissions are due to livestock. (Source)
Usage + Destruction
Animal agriculture requires a huge amount of land. 2 to 5 acres are needed per indivual cow that is raised for beef. That’s 20x more land than what is needed to grow crops for a vegan diet.
On top of the land that is needed for livestock – tons of vegetation land is used to exclusively grow crops to feed to live stock. So 80% of all agricultural land is used to raise animals for food. There could be so much more food produced to feed so many more people if all of of the agricultural land was used for grain and plant production for human consumption.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. 290 million acres in America have been cleared to grow animal feed. Most of the topsoil that is lost in America every year is due to dairy and beef production. To feed a person who consumes animal products, about 3.25 acres of land are needed per year. Meanwhile, a vegan would only require 1/6 of a single acre per year.
To try and keep up with this unsustainable amount of land needed to meet the high and excessive demand of meat and dairy products, tons of land and rain forest destruction takes place. In rain forest countries, about 220 square feet of rain forest is cleared to produce 1 pound of beef. The amount of rain forest destroyed for animal agriculture everyday is larger than New York City. This displaces and destroys 2600 pounds of other living matter (not to mention habitats,) and endless species. Unlike coniferous forest, tropical rainforest can never be replaced once it’s cleared. It is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. (Source, source)
*Please note – information and facts here are not Generation Green or Acorn Cafe’s. All information has been outsourced. Please reference the links in this article to further investigate! You are your own health advocate so make informed choices!!
Article written by Savannah