The U.S. would have to figure out what it would do with 1 trillion gallons of irrigated water it uses to raise livestock each year. 🙂 We’d also have more land to grow vegetables, maybe less obesity and heart disease, and possibly more protein and iron deficiency if people didn’t balance their vegetarian diets correctly. There would probably be an increased demand for beans and quinoa and hopefully tofu on my plate every night Question: Does this vegetarian parallel dimension exclude or include eating eggs? And do people who call themselves “vegetarians” but eat fish count as “vegetarians?”
If everyone in the US alone went vegetarian for a single day, we would save 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise meant to feed livestock, 100 billion gallons of water, 70 millions gallons of gas, and 3 million acres of land, according to http://www.alternet.org. We would prevent the emission of 1.2 million tons of CO2, $70 million in economic damages caused by soil erosion, and nearly 7 tons of ammonia emmissions. If everyone in the US skipped just one meal of chicken a week, it would have the same effect on CO2 polution as taking half a million cars off of US roads for the day.
Many of the domestic breeds of animals that were developed over thousands of years for meat production would go extinct. However, much of the grazing land that is currently used for cattle production could be re-established as prairie or forest. This benefit natural grazing species immensely. The demand for corn would also decrease very quickly. This would be a great thing for U.S. agriculture, which is in desperate need of crop diversification.
People are focusing on the benefits of everyone becoming vegetarian. Sure; there are some. One is that we might some rainforest recovery due to less logging in South America; much of this logging is done to create space for cattle to graze.
What people don’t understand is that this would create massive unbalance in the ecosystem. We’ve killed off a lot of the predators in all of our ecosystems, like wolves, and replaced them with ourselves.
For example, if Americans stopped hunting deer, the deer population would spiral out of control and cause massive ecological devastation. Already, the lack of predators for deer has significantly decreased the biodiversity in many of their habitats, such as Pennsyvlania. If we were to stop hunting them, many species that rely on the same food as deer would probably go extinct, like songbirds. They can’t live in an overbrowsed forest because they need nesting to survive. This is why the Audubon Society allows deer hunting on its lands. Places like Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, who forbid hunting, have no idea how to control their ungulate populations, like elk. They are having significant problems maintaining the ecosystem there. Not to mention that if we stopped hunting ungulates like deer, the amount of deer collisions on the road would skyrocket.
That’s just ONE example; there are hundreds, if not thousands, of other types of ecosystems that would be wrecked if humans suddenly stopped interfering.
Hunters are actually the largest group contributors to conservation, and many programs that originate from hunters really help save the environment, such as Lousiana’s Marsh-to-Markets program.
Also, domestic animals are actually an important part of keeping ground fertile. Their dung restores nitrogen to the soil, among other things. That’s why grazing animals are an important part of keeping farms fertile by natural cyclical shifting of crops of different types and grazing animals. If grazing animals became less profitable, farmers would stop raising them and increasinly rely on toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
I’m not trying to rain on everyone’s parade, but it’s very important to think about how everything relates together. Ecosystems are complex, and a massive shift like that would have massive consequences – some of them good, some of them bad.
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