For the World

 
 
 
 

The Environment 

cattle grazing rainforest

slashing and burning

soil erosion

The production of meat, milk, and eggs derived from animals, in other words, livestock farming, places an enormous strain on the environment. Excrement produced by farm animals pollutes our water and of course, in turn the sea as well. In addition, livestock farming is responsible for generating one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide, and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions. These are all major players in global warming.

Due to the fact that most feed given to livestock is used up by the animal’s metabolic processes as well as for bone growth and so on, we can see that only a small proportion of the feed is transformed into muscle tissue i.e. meat. Therefore, a large area of land is needed to grow enough feed for only a small piece of meat. This leads to, amongst other things, higher consumption of fossil fuels through the use of farm machinery on the fields which in turn leads to increased levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide that is released through the burning of the fossil fuel. Much of the land used for cattle grazing and to grow monoculture crops is land that was once rainforest, destroyed by slashing and burning. This method of slashing and burning is responsible for most of the global loss of rainforest and in addition, the burning releases carbon dioxide and destroys forest that would be able to absorb that carbon dioxide. Slashing and burning can therefore be seen as causing double the amount of damage to the climate.

An astonishing Dutch study from 2008 shows: If we skip livestock globally, we could reduce climate stabilisation costs by 80% until 2050, a saving of 32000 billion US$! Climate stabilisation almost for free! The published version with a low meat diet still reduces costs by 20000 billion US$! The elimination of livestock emissions and new forests on abandoned farmland that could bind immense amounts of CO2, lead to this fascinating result.

Crop monocultures and over grazing are the chief causes of soil erosion and loss of fertile land. A further problem caused by the production of meat is the enormous amount of water needed, not only to water the crops, but also as drinking water for the animals themselves: On average 25000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kg of beef. For 1 kg tomatoes 290 litres are needed and for 1kg soya beans 4800 litres. It is worth noting that soya beans contain more protein than beef.