The animal industry isn't only rough on animals, but also on our environment.
"The livestock sector is a major stressor on many ecosystems and on the planet as a whole. Globally it is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases and one of the leading causal factors in the loss of biodiversity, while in developed and emerging countries it is perhaps the leading source of water pollution."
-- the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
The global demand for animal products like meat, dairy and eggs is currently still increasing. To be able to meet de demand for these products, more animals are bred and more grain is grown to be able to feed them. These animals also produce a lot of waste, which causes water and air pollution.
Even though there is a lot of water on our planet, only 2.5 percent of all that water is freshwater. Freshwater can be used as drinking water, to irrigate our land and for industrial purposes. Most of our freshwater is used for agriculture.
A lot of the agriculture water is used for livestock. It is used to provide the animals with drinking water, but also for many other purposes. In slaughterhouses, water is used during the slaughter, for hide removal, to wash the carcass, for boning and for chilling. Water is also used to create dairy products or leather for instance.
The largest amount of water the agriculture sector uses for livestock however, is to provide them with food. The feed production industry uses huge amounts of water to irrigate the land on which food is grown for all these animals, which have been bred to provide people products like meat, dairy and eggs. It has been estimated that the livestock sector may account for about 45 percent of the global budget of water used in food production (source Zimmer and Renault 2003).
"A vegetarian diet is much easier on the planet than one that's heavy in animal products. Nearly half the water consumed in this country and 70 percent of the grain grown is used for livestock, mostly cattle. It takes almost 16 pounds of grass and grain to produce one pound of beef. If the land on which grain is grown were used to grow, say, black beans instead, it would generate 10 to 20 times as much protein."
-- Audubon Magazine: Resolutions for a New Millennium.
U.S. livestock consume more than six and a half times as much grain as the entire U.S. human population consumes directly. According to the Council for Agriculture Science and Technology, if all this grain was consumed directly by humans, it would nourish five times as many people as it does after it is converted into meat, milk and eggs.
Animal food production is very inefficient in terms of energy requirements. The production and harvesting of animal foods use up almost all the energy in the United States food system.
A vegan diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4200 gallons of water per day.
Agriculture, crops and livestock is the number one source of water pollution in
the U.S. Fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, and livestock waste runoffs all
severely pollute the U.S. waterways.
Intensive animal agriculture practices, such as overgrazing, have so degraded the grasslands that soil erosion rates in the U.S. are now extremely high. about 90% of U.S. cropland is losing soil at least thirteen times faster than the sustainable rate. The amount of topsoil lost may take thousands of years to be redeposited.
Animal agriculture accounts for more than 80% of annual world deforestation.
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