THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF A PLANT BASED DIET
Compiled from the executive summary of Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options” a 2006 report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization:
CLIMATE CHANGE: with rising temperatures, rising sea levels, shifting weather patters climate change is the most serious challenge facing the human race. The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent… Livestock are also responsible for almost 64% of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acification of ecosystems.
WATER: The livestock sector is a key player in increasing water use, accounting for over 8 percent of global human water use, mostly for the irrigation of feedcrops. It is probably the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to dead zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others. The major soursces of pollution are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feedcrops, and sediments from eroded pastures.
LAND DEGRADATION: Expansion of livestock production is a key facot in deforestation, especially in Latin America where the greatest amount of deforestation is occurring – 70% of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder.
BIODIVERSITY: Indeed, the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species.
“The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.” David Brubaker, PhD, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University Environmental News Network, 9/20/99
“A single dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of wet manure per day, which is equivalent to the waste produced by 20-40 people. That means California’s 1.4 million diary cows produce as much waste as 28-56 million people” US Enivironmental Protection Agency, Fall 2001
According to the EPA’s “Animal Waste: What’s the Problem?”:The growing scale and concentration of AFOs [animal feeding operations] has contributed to negative environmental and human health impacts. Pollution associated with AFOs degrades the quality of waters, threatens drinking water sources, and may harm air quality.
By definition, AFOs produce large amounts of waste in small areas. For example, a single dairy cow produces approximately 120 pounds of wet manure per day. Estimates equate the waste produced per day by one dairy cow to that of 20–40 humans per day.…Manure, and wastewater containing manure, can severely harm river and stream ecosystems. Manure contains ammonia which is highly toxic to fish at low levels. Increased amounts of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from AFOs can cause algal blooms which block waterways and deplete oxygen as they decompose. This can kill fish and other aquatic organisms, devastating the entire aquatic food chain.
* FUN FACT COMPLIMENTS OF BILLY MANN OF SAGEBRUSH SOLAR: According to the EPA, you put 1.5 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere with every kWh you use. Thus, if you eat once a week at Glow, you offset 1.1 tons CO2 per year! If each meal at Glow costs $20, that’s 2.2 lbs/$
Owning a Prius offsets about 2 tons CO2 annually and costs about $5000 per year—or about 0.8 lbs/$. Thus, by eating at Glow once per week, you’re offsetting nearly 3-times as many tons of CO2 per dollar per year than owning a Prius!