The enviroment and meat – article 2

(Article 1 here)

Here’s an article for anybody who is concerned and doing something about the environment. It asks…

So You’re an Environmentalist; Why Are You Still Eating Meat?
By Jim Motavalli, E Magazine.

Evidence shows a meat-based diet is bad for the environment, aggravates global hunger, brutalizes animals and compromises health. So why aren’t more environmentalists vegetarians?

There has never been a better time for environmentalists to become vegetarians. Evidence of the environmental impacts of a meat-based diet is piling up at the same time its health effects are becoming better known. Meanwhile, full-scale industrialized factory farming — which allows diseases to spread quickly as animals are raised in close confinement — has given rise to recent, highly publicized epidemics of meat-borne illnesses. At press time, the first discovery of mad cow disease in a Tokyo suburb caused beef prices to plummet in Japan and many people to stop eating meat.

All this comes at a time when meat consumption is reaching an all-time high around the world, quadrupling in the last 50 years. There are 20 billion head of livestock taking up space on the Earth, more than triple the number of people. According to the Worldwatch Institute, global livestock population has increased 60 percent since 1961, and the number of fowl being raised for human dinner tables has nearly quadrupled in the same time period, from 4.2 billion to 15.7 billion. U.S. beef and pork consumption has tripled since 1970, during which time it has more than doubled in Asia.

Americans spend $110 billion a year on meat-intensive fast food, and its growing popularity around the world may be a factor in dramatic increases in global meat consumption. © Jason Kremkau

One reason for the increase in meat consumption is the rise of fast-food restaurants as an American dietary staple. As Eric Schlosser noted in his best-selling book Fast Food Nation, “Americans now spend more money on fast food — $110 billion a year — than they do on higher education. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music — combined.” …

World Hunger and Resources

The 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to produce one pound of beef for human beings represents a colossal waste of resources in a world still teeming with people who suffer from profound hunger and malnutrition.

According to the British group Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle. Britain — with 56 million people — could support a population of 250 million on an all-vegetable diet. Because 90 percent of U.S. and European meat eaters’ grain consumption is indirect (first being fed to animals), westerners each consume 2,000 pounds of grain a year. Most grain in underdeveloped countries is consumed directly.

Somalian famine victims line up for food handouts. Producing a pound of beef requires 4.8 pounds of grain, and critics of our modern agricultural system say that the spread of meat-based diets aggravates world hunger. © David & Peter Turnley / Corbis

While it is true that many animals graze on land that would be unsuitable for cultivation, the demand for meat has taken millions of productive acres away from farm inventories. The cost of that is incalculable. As Diet For a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé writes, imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce steak. “Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the ‘feed cost’ of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains.”World Hunger and Resources

The 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle to produce one pound of beef for human beings represents a colossal waste of resources in a world still teeming with people who suffer from profound hunger and malnutrition.

According to the British group Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle. Britain — with 56 million people — could support a population of 250 million on an all-vegetable diet. Because 90 percent of U.S. and European meat eaters’ grain consumption is indirect (first being fed to animals), westerners each consume 2,000 pounds of grain a year. Most grain in underdeveloped countries is consumed directly.

Somalian famine victims line up for food handouts. Producing a pound of beef requires 4.8 pounds of grain, and critics of our modern agricultural system say that the spread of meat-based diets aggravates world hunger. © David & Peter Turnley / Corbis

While it is true that many animals graze on land that would be unsuitable for cultivation, the demand for meat has taken millions of productive acres away from farm inventories. The cost of that is incalculable. As Diet For a Small Planet author Frances Moore Lappé writes, imagine sitting down to an eight-ounce steak. “Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the ‘feed cost’ of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains.”

» Read the whole article. It’s very compelling.

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