Earth Day is coming up on April 22 so this is a good time to remind ourselves of how a plant-based diet can help heal the earth, since raising meat is such a big driver of the environmental crisis. The major concerns are as follows:
1. Climate Change
First and foremost, global warming! According to a UN report, raising meat causes more greenhouse emissions than all the cars, trains, trucks, boats and ships in the world put together. Livestock and their byproducts actually account for 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG [green house gas] emissions.” So by reducing demand for animal products, we can do a lot to reduce the rate of global warming. Read more
Chick-fil-A recently held a “Cow Appreciation Day”, but we’re doing anything but celebrating. Their idea of “appreciating” cows is to give away free chicken. While we’re all for skipping the burgers, substituting chicken has to be one of the worst deals of the century. Let’s look at some of the details of the Chick-fil-A bad deal.
While not quite as high as beef, chicken still has high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol that contribute to clogged arteries and other diseases. Cooking chicken also produces more cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) than any other meat when cooked, and fried chicken is even worse. So there’s no doubt that eating chicken is bad for your health. Read more
When it comes to pork, there’s a high price to be paid by the workers, by the environment, and perhaps worst of all, by the pigs themselves. The scale of the problem is enormous. We raise 120 million pigs each year in the US, and many millions more are raised around the world.
The environment pays a high price for concentrated factory-style pig farming. Factory pig farms produce huge amounts of manure – much more than can be used as fertilizer. This manure is stored in lagoons that can leak or break open after a good rain, and cause massive amounts of water pollution as the runoff enters the lakes and streams. This results in massive fish kills and food chain disruption. Methane, a greenhouse gas much more damaging than carbon dioxide, is given off from these lagoons, contributing to global warming, and the intense smell reduces the air quality in the surrounding neighborhood to an often unbearable degree. Read more
When it comes to the environment, the public’s attention has been understandably focused on global warming. However, the water pollution problem hasn’t gone away. While many people are aware of the water pollution caused by raising cattle, few are aware that raising chicken is just as bad if not worse. Sure, a cow produces more manure than a chicken does, but there are far more chickens in this country. In fact, we now raise over 9 billion chickens every year compared to only 90 million cows.
In addition to the water pollution that results from agricultural runoff from fertilizer while raising feed crops for all those chickens, the waste products from raising chickens cause an enormous amount of pollution. In fact overall, raising chickens results in more nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in our waterways than raising cattle. Read more
There is a quiet environmental crisis brewing and it’s very serious. It’s so widespread that it affects the entire world. It’s so dangerous that the great humanitarian, the Dalai Lama, considers it a greater threat than nuclear weapons. It’s sneaking up on us, it could easily hurt more people and cause more disruption than global warming, and for some parts of the world it’s already too late.
The problem is soil erosion. 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!
Soil is where food begins. Therefore 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. Perhaps President Franklin Roosevelt put the threat best when he said, “The history of every nation is eventually written in the way it cares for its soil. The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Read more