The meat industry is being blamed for largest ever ‘dead zone’, the size of New Jersey, in the Gulf of Mexico. A new report shows that pollution from feed suppliers and companies like Tyson Foods are pouring into waterways, causing marine life to leave or die. The meat industry, already implicated in driving global warming, soil erosion and deforestation, has now been blamed for fueling what is expected to be the worst “dead zone” on record in the Gulf of Mexico.
Here’s what’s happening. Pollutants flowing into waterways from agriculture and wastewater accumulate, where they stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which decomposes and takes up all the oxygen in the water. This results in hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, in the water, causing marine life either to flee or to die. When this happens the region of water is known as a dead zone.
The pollutants come not only from manure (Tyson alone generated 55 million tons of manure last year), but also from the runoff from farms that produce the vast amounts of feed necessary to feed the many millions of animals raised for meat. Included in this runoff are not only plant matter and eroded soil, but also the fertilizers used to grow them. In fact, 70% of all the crops raised in the United States goes to feed farm animals.
These pollutants make their way into rivers, lakes and streams and eventually into the Gulf, where they accumulate and ultimately kill off the marine life. But dead zones can be brought back to life. With the adoption of a vegetarian diet the pollution will be dramatically reduced, and the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone as well as other dead zones around the world can once again become teeming with life.
The report was issued by Mighty, an environmental group headed by former Congressman Henry Waxman.
Fishing and fish farming are destroying the ocean’s ecology. In fact, according to the United Nations Environmental Program, the ocean’s ecological crisis is “greater than anything witnessed on land.” The scope of this problem can partly gauged by the fact that there are now over four million commercial fishing vessels combing the world’s oceans, depleting fish at a rate that’s considered three times more than is sustainable.
The rainforests are dying and raising livestock is killing them. The problem is only getting worse. For instance, according to recent reports, deforestation in Brazil has already increased by 30 percent in just the last 12 months. 1,600 trees are chopped down every minute just to make room for cattle to graze and to grow livestock feed. If these rates of deforestation continue, it’s likely that there won’t be any rainforest left in 100 years. It is this all-time record destruction that has set off a loud alarm bell ringing among scientists, environmentalists and many others. Read more
Which is better for the environment, driving or walking? Before you rush to say “Walking, of course, because it doesn’t use any fossil fuel,” think again!
For the average American, walking actually uses quite a lot of fossil fuel, because the fuel the walker uses is the food they eat. Food takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce, and the food that takes the most is meat. It actually takes about 17 times more fossil fuel to get a calorie from meat than it does from wheat or beans. That means if you follow a meat-centered diet, you’re going to indirectly burn a lot of fossil fuel just by walking. Of course, vegetarians use far less fossil fuel. Read more
Recently, some people have been touting grass-fed beef as eliminating all the problems associated with meat, or as an equivalent alternative to going vegetarian. Don’t fall for it. Grass-fed beef is still bad for us, the environment and, of course, the cows.
Let’s take a look and see what some leading veg-authors have to say on the subject and then make a few observations of our own. Read more
Vegetarians of Washington has submitted a population-health-initiative-proposal to the University of Washington Population Health Initiative, which aims to bring together the research and resources of the UW and partners around the Puget Sound and beyond to improve the health and well-being of people around the world.
Funded by a gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Initiative will focus on three key areas: human health, environmental resiliency, and social and economic equity.
Our proposal outlines the benefits to human health, the environment, global hunger and other social justice aspects. We proposed that the Initiative look for ways to educate the medical profession, NGOs, policy makers, teachers, farmers and the general public about the importance of a plant-based diet, and how to go about making the necessary changes. Our key conclusion states:
The potential for improving health and saving human lives by encouraging the world to shift to a plant-based diet is enormous. The costs of this project are small, in comparison to the potential huge global savings in healthcare costs, not to mention the potential for saving the planet from climate change and many other environmental crises, and freeing up vast quantities of land and water for an ever-increasing population.
They will be considering all proposals in January 2017. We hope they step up to the plate!
A new position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) highlights the benefit of a plant-based diet for both health and now the environment. The paper says plant-based diets are more environmentally friendly and sustainable than diets rich in animal products, noting that they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent.
“Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage” the Academy says . “Becoming vegetarian can be beneficial to personal health and the environment,” says Vandana Sheth, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”
More and more dietitians are publishing articles on the connection between our food choices and environmental sustainability. To learn more of how a veg diet protects the environment, see our many articles, or our printable Eating Green brochure.