Tag Archives: animal agriculture

Cutting livestock by a third

There’s no fixing a climate change catastrophe without slashing the number of animals raised for food.  A new Meat Atlas 2021 report revealed that globally, the world’s five largest meat and dairy companies together account for more emissions than oil giants such as BP or Exxon.  Many people now recognize this fact, but governments appear loath to acknowledge it publicly in their policies due to pressure from large animal agriculture producers and meat-eaters.  However, one country has taken the first step in this process, and are considering cutting the number of livestock by nearly a third. 

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Helping animal ag workers transition

We’re sometimes asked what would happen to all the animal agriculture workers if we all went veg? After all, the animal agriculture industry currently employs more than 700,000 full and part-time workers in the United States alone. The answer is that hopefully they would find jobs in other industries, but it’s not so easy! These workers are unlikely to have the skills necessary for being successful in plant-based agriculture, so they need some extra help. That’s where the Brave New Life Project comes in.

Their mission is to help workers to transition out of the animal agriculture industry and into careers that are more humane, sustainable and prosperous. The BNLP is very practical organization. Its mission is to not only help the workers and their families gain better employment opportunities, but to help transition to a system of plant-based agriculture that is more sustainable for the planet as a whole. They offer free programs for sustainable agriculture, including plant food farming internships, resume building,  job application assistance, job interview coaching and connection to community resources. In addition, individuals are introduced to legal assistance services and mental health programs when needed. The goal is to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for workers who previously felt trapped.

Why do they do it? They say they love working hard to make the world a better place. And, they’re doing more than just helping the workers. They’re helping to save the animals, and preserving nature while nourishing the world.

While they work to help workers leave the animal agriculture industry, we also remember the plight of the workers still working in the meat industry, such as the slaughterhouse workers who have the most dangerous job in America.

Raising meat is a threat to produce farmers!

Raising meat poses a threat to crop farmers, their produce and our health!

Even at a distance, raising meat poses a danger to human health. A new report by the FDA highlights the danger of farm animal operations located close to produce growing fields. Bacteria from farm animals that cause food poisoning can travel over to the produce by water, dust in the wind or via the farmworkers. All kinds of produce are vulnerable to bacterial contamination.

Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating food contaminated with disease-causing bacteria or the toxins produced by the bacteria. These are intestinal bacteria and originate from the guts of animals, since only animals and humans have intestines. Given the large numbers of animals on a factory farm, and the waste they produce, it’s trouble waiting to happen. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning include Salmonella, Staph and E. Coli.

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Soil Erosion – the Silent Crisis

Soil erosionThere’s a silent crisis that threatens us all. It’s much more serious than most people realize and if we don’t do something about it we’re all in trouble. This crisis is soil erosion.

As with many other environmental problems, it’s caused by raising farm animals for meat. It turns out that 85% of all the soil erosion in the United States, and 55% around the world, is caused directly by the livestock, and by growing the fantastic amount of feed the 60 billion farm animals around the world consume. Unfortunately, most environmental organizations aren’t paying too much attention to it and the media almost completely ignores it. After all, it’s hard to get excited about dirt!

We need to take it more seriously. Soil is where food begins. Humanity depends upon the soil for its food, and if enough of the soil goes, humanity will go with it. Without soil, not only will the crops we plant not grow, but other vegetation will die as well. Read more

Putting the carbon back where it belongs

There’s an extra benefit to the environment when we go veg that’s not often talked about. We’ve written in the past about how much global warming gases are emitted by the animal agriculture, but there’s more good news. Once we stop raising animals for meat, the land they were using, directly and indirectly, could be allowed to return to its natural state and start absorbing carbon.

The extensive amount of land used to raise meat incurs a carbon opportunity cost, given the potential for carbon sequestration through ecosystem restoration. Soil carbon sequestration is a process in which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil carbon pool. As the ecosystem recovers, the native plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and store carbon in their roots, thus increasing organic carbon in the soil.

This would have a huge impact. Raising meat has had a particularly detrimental impact on land since half the land on earth is used directly or indirectly for raising meat. A recent study showed that if everyone in the world went vegan, we could remove 16 years of fossil-fuel-based carbon emissions from the atmosphere by the year 2050. That’s enough to really turn around the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and start to reduce the rate at which the climate is changing.

Another factor not talked about is that the mass of animals raised for slaughter on Earth now outweighs all wildlife by a factor of 15-to-1. This causes massive damage to world’s ecology and leads to a reduction in biodiversity with the extinction of many species. With the land freed up from raising animals, wildlife would have a chance to recover increasing the chances of species survival. This would provide a broad benefit to the ecology and help normalize the natural food chain, making the soil and plant life healthier, which could then absorb further carbon from the atmosphere.

So a global switch to a vegan diet would both reduce the emission and increase the absorption of greenhouse gases, and enable the ecology and especially the soil to recover, creating a virtuous circle instead of a vicious decline in the health of our planet.

A new way to farm without killing animals

Jay Wilde was born into the family farm with an environmentally-minded father who never engaged with business-like intensive farming such as the usage of artificial fertilizers and herbicides.  He inherited a dairy farm in England in 2011, so initially he produced dairy goods, before moving onto organic beef.  But in 2017, he and his wife Katja could no longer bear to send the cows to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death.  They made headlines by rehoming the cows at an animal sanctuary, and the UK Vegan Society worked with him to switch to alternative farming practices.  

Jay is now working with Refarm’d, an organization that works to give animal farmers a new business model that doesn’t benefit from the exploitation of animals.  They helped him to make a smooth shift into a booming market that is the plant milk industry, enabling him to keep his farm with the remaining 17 retired cows.  Jay and Katja Wilde spent time finessing their business model so that they could ensure producing oat milk was sustainable and profitable, while providing themselves with a cruelty-free source of income. While they had initially started producing organic vegetables, they found that a project producing oat milk was the ideal complement.

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Veg diet needed to prevent ecological disaster

Sir David Attenborough is urging people to go vegetarian to save species from dying out, and to produce more food.

Sir David Attenborough at the Great Barrier Reef

In a new Netflix documentary, A Life On Our Planet, the veteran naturalist says: “We must change our diet. The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. “If we had a mostly plant-based diet, we could increase the yield of the land”

The growth of animal farming worldwide and the rise in demand for meat and dairy are considered key factors in deforestation, which is threatening the extinction of many wild species in the food chain, from insects to elephants and big cats.

According to Attenborough, “Our planet is headed for disaster. We need to learn how to work with nature rather than against it.”

Sir David Attenborough is an English broadcaster and natural historian. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine natural history documentary series forming the Life collection that together constitute a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on Earth. In 2017, Sir David revealed that he had stopped eating meat.

Learn more about the environmental cost of eating meat and animal products.

Why does animal agriculture use so much oil?

This is an extract from our book, Say No to Meat, the 411 on Ditching Meat and Going Veg.

It’s amazing how much oil is used to produce meat. In fact, agriculture uses 17 percent of all the fossil fuel (oil, coal and natural gas) in the United States, with meat production responsible for the majority of that portion. There are several reasons for this. One reason is that most animals are raised in so-called factory farms, where their feed is grown elsewhere and shipped in. These animals consume enormous quantities of crops – in fact about 70 percent of all the corn and 80 percent of all the soybeans grown in the United States are fed to farm animals. When we consider the fossil fuel used for meat production, we also have to take into account all the fuel used to manufacture fertilizers and pesticides, and to water, harvest, and ship those crops throughout the animal’s entire lifetime, as well as that required for the transportation and slaughter of the animals, plus the shipping and refrigeration of the meat. All that fuel adds up. Grass-fed animals use less fuel, but these animals use so much land that it’s not practical to feed America’s meat habit this way.

Going vegetarian saves oil. Plant based foods are simply grown, harvested, shipped and eaten directly rather than wastefully being funneled through a farm animal first. Much less refrigeration is usually required for plant foods than animal products. But the big advantage is that it takes only a pound of grain to make a loaf of bread, whereas it takes over 17 pounds of grain to make a pound of beef, requiring much more fossil fuel. We’re not kidding when we say that if you are still eating meat we would rather you drive your car to get places rather than walk! 

Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University explains it this way, “It is actually quite astounding how much energy is wasted by the standard American-style diet. Even driving many gas-guzzling luxury cars can conserve energy over walking—that is, when the calories you burn walking come from the standard American diet!”

So if you are an environmentally-conscious consumer looking to cut down on your use of fossil fuel, a non-renewable resource, switching to a vegetarian diet is a great place to start.

Farm to Fork Strategy encourages plant-based diets

Cows eating

The European Commission (EU) recently published a “Farm to Fork Strategy” which aims to encourage a shift toward plant-based diets. The plan proposed that $11 billion be used for research into sustainable food sources, including meat substitutes and other plant-based protein foods.  This provides a major commercial opportunity for Europe to encourage these industries as part of the economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession. Read more

Sick animals hurt!

Pig factoryIt hurts to be sick, and animals are no exception.  When animals are raised in factory farm conditions, they are usually crammed into small spaces, and held in very unhygienic conditions, such that diseases can run rampant. Sometimes these diseases spread from one factory to another causing a pandemic. Unfortunately farm animal disease pandemics plague our food system, destabilizing trade and markets and causing product shortages, and multiplying the amount of suffering that the animals themselves experience exponentially. Read more

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