It is environmentally and energetically more expensive to produce livestock than it is to produce crops. You really only need land and water to produce crops, and that is the final product. To produce livestock, you would need land, water, AND crops and plenty more of each too. It is environmentally beneficial to live a vegetarian diet because you are consuming less resources.
Actually, it’s controversial if being vegetarian is actually better for the environment. Livestock don’t need crops; in fact eating grains makes them sick. Ruminants such as cattle naturally eat grass and grass has evolved to be eaten. Grasslands that are appropriately grazed (not over grazed) are healthier for the grassland, the ruminant (who in exchange fertilizes the grassland), and the who/whatever eats the animal.
If you want to eat in a way good for the environment, I recommend eating locally (look into CSA programs with local farms and/or farmer’s markets) and eating organic. Whether eating meat or veggies, these are the important factors for the environment.
I’m a vegetarian, and I feel like not eating meat is good for the environment because I’m not personally responsible for the death of an animal. Animals are part of the environment, and I don’t want to take any of them away.
That being said, for every vegetarian there is, there are countless more people who eat meat. If you truly want to use your eating to help the environment, try eating locally, and organically. Eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables that aren’t packaged will save on waste and on the energy it takes to package them. You could even try planting some of your own fruits, vegetables or herbs in your garden.
It really all depends on where you are getting your food from. High output agriculture causes as much environmental damage as livestock farming, through their use of pesticides, fertilizers and over farming that strips the soil of all it’s natural nutrients as well as contributing to runoff. If you are considering becoming vegetarian for environmental reasons, it s important that you buy foods that are produced locally and in season. At the very least, try to find foods that are grown using more nature friendly, organic methods.
The production of meat takes a huge toll on the environment. The amount of water it takes to produce a pound of meat, in addition to the grain required to feed the livestock and the pesticides/fertilizers used on the grain, creates a huge amount of waste. The greenhouse gases produced by the meat industry are more than either the transportation and energy industries. By becoming a vegetarian, you’re not contributing to the wasteful practices of the meat industry.
Unless you’re buying organic, cage-free, locally-grown meat, to the above answers I would reinforce the idea that vegetarians don’t help support the massive environmental footprint of factory farms. Factory farms alone account for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The storage of the approximately 1 billion tonnes of waste produced by factory farms is the “leading cause of soil and groundwater pollution“, including 64% of all ammonia emissions (which is the main contributor to acid rain).
Moreover, the growing of feed crops for these animals’ maintenance (all those animals require a lot of food), the transportation of this meat, the maintenance of the farms and slaughterhouses themselves (the average slaughterhouse kills 250 cows per hour) contribute to further environmental degradation.
However, all of this can easily be offset if, as the above posters discuss, you buy locally grown, organic and cage-free meat. For more information, see the links below.
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