Environmental Reasons to be Vegetarian
With the obvious exception of humans, it's odd to think that any animal could seriously damage the environment. Beef cows, however, are giving it a go, and apparently they've been successful. Conservationists now refer to the animals as "hoofed locusts," and not only because they trample, pollute, and destroy all land they graze. Studies also show that cows play significant roles in deforestation, soil erosion, water scarcity, global warming, depletion of fossil fuels, and loss of biodiversity. Odd as it may sound, the environmental impact of the cow is perhaps even more calamitous than the automobile.
Of course, the problem is not really with the cows, but with eating them. Every time you swallow a piece of beef, you consume both food and natural resources twice. The same land, labor, water, and fuel used to raise, slaughter, package, and transport livestock is also needed to grow and harvest feed grain. And this double use of resources leads to a seemly preposterous statistic: while the average vegetarian consumes between 300 and 400 pounds of grain per year, the average meat-eater consumes over 2000. Of course, eighty percent of the meat eater's total is first digested by cows, pigs, and chickens. Needless to say, this process is both and extravagant and inefficient.
Given the above, anyone environmentally conscious enough to recycle should also consider reducing his or her meat consumption. Doing so is arguably more beneficial to the environment, and, in many ways, easier. While it's no picnic sorting and recycling trash, not eating beef requires little or no work at all. You only have to pick something else on the menu.
Finally, here's a modest proposal. Why not
cut beef production in half and convert the cattle ranches of America's
tornado alley into wind farms? Given the growing scarcity of fossil
fuels, surely the plan holds enough economic potential to offset resulting
job losses in the cattle industry. Until that happens, though, here
are a few facts to consider about the environmental impact of the