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The Impact of Meat-eating on the Environment

Story ID:4292
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various USA
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I hope someone from the Gates Foundation will read this and/or Martha
Rosenberg's Oped article re using the Heifer Foundation to feed the
impoverished nations of Africa.

Bill Gates who made a gigantic name for himself in the computer business
may have surrounded himself with people who don't seem to know how to
use computers for research. Addressing hunger by introducing meat to the
diets of the poor people of Africa just doesn't seem a wise move given findings
of research scientists and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

I knew that I could easily find information re this subject by using the many
available search wagons. I often use the one benefiting my animal charity.
So on the Welcome Good Search line I typed - Can the earth sustain a meat-
eating world? Simple as that. Here are some of the quotes from the four links
I printed:

WHY ANIMAL AGRICULTURE DOESN'T ADD UP --"The more meat we eat, the
fewer people we can feed. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or
her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished.
Dropping that figure to 15 per cent would mean that 4.2 billion people could
be fed......Producing the grain that is used to feed farmed animals requires
vast amounts of water. It takes about 300 gallons of water per day to produce
food for a vegan, and more than 4,000 gallons of water per day to produce food
for a meat- eater." (Goveg.org/WorldHunger-animal Agriculture).

LEARNING FROM CHINA (Why the Western Economic Model Will not work
for the World) ".........For this exercise we will assume an 8 percent annual
economic growth rate (for China). If the Chinese consume resources in 2031
as voraciusly as Americans do now, grain consumption per person there would
be a climb from 291 kilograms today to the 935 kilograms needed to sustain
a U.S. -style diet rich in MEAT, MILK, AND EGGS......To reach the U.S. 2004
meat intake of 125 kilograms per person, China's meat consumption would
rise from the current 64 million tons to 181 million tons in 2031, or roughly
four fifths of current world meat production of 239 million tons."

Do we really want to teach other nations to eat meat? I hope China doesn't
follow our bad example and that of the other rich nations because we are
seriously depleting the resources of the world. Of course, it seems that they
are heading there.

And from OUT OF THE EARTH-GO VEGETARIAN! I found 11 pages of worthwhile
considerations-- hoping I have picked the most "neutral." "Planet earth is
suffering. In large measure, the excalating loss of species, destruction of
ancient rainforests to create pasture lands for livestock, loss of topsoils and
the consequent increase of water impurities and air pollution have all been
traced to the single fact of MEAT in the human diet."

of the earth is rising. This global warming, known as 'the greenhouse effect'
results primarily from carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels such
as oil and natural gas. Three times more fossil fuels must be burned to produce
a meat-centered diet than for a meat-free diet. If people stopped eating meat,
the threat of higher world temperatures would be vastly diminshed." (If you
believe this - than should we be introducing the raising of meat animals in

I found this quote from OUT OF THE EARTH: Meat-eating is devouring oil
reserves at an alarming rate. It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel (oil, natural
gas, etc.) energy to produce one calorie of beef protein and only 2 calories of
fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of soybean. If every human ate a
meat-centered diet, the world's known oil reserves would last a mere 13
years. They would last 260 years if humans stopped eating meat altogether.
That is 20 times longer, giving humanity ample time to develop alternative
energy sources."

Of course, I don't envision people being so concerned about the global issues
as to stop eating meat completely, but can't we try to eat less meat for the
good of the world?

My last quote comes from www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston: "Last year
researchers at the University of Chicago took the Prius down a peg when
they turned their attention to another gas-guzzling consumer purchase. They
noted that feeding animals for meat, dairy, and egg production requres growing
some ten times as much crops as we'd need if we just ate pasta primavera, faux
chicken nuggets, and other plant foods. On top of that, we have to transport
the animals to slaugherhouses, slaughter them, refrigerate their carcasses,
and distribute their flesh all across the country. Producing a calorie of meat
protein means burning more than ten times as much fossil fuels--and spewing
more than ten times as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide--as does a calorie
of plant protein."

I also shutter to think of what the slaughter practices will be in Africa if the
Heifer Project goes forward. (Not that ours all that humane). If you want to read
Martha Rosenberg's description of the wrenching of a rabbit's neck with the
accompaning screams go to her Oped article on the Gates Foundation support
of the Heifter International Program.

Sadly, I don't know how many of these people still subscribe to animal sacrifice,
but I saw on TV one poor goat spread eagle and suspended in the air as he or she
bleated fearfully as a man plunged a knife in the heart. This done to "purify"
the young man who had been involved in the Darfur atrocities. I don't think
this use of an innocent food animal is appropriate or necessary.

If the Gates people didn't do their homework - I hope it is not too late to do it
now. and if the plan seems unwise, it probably is. Helping the impoverished
of Africa is a wonderful enterprise - but sending helpless innocent animals
in horrible transportation conditions to people who don't have the resources
or know how to raise them compassionately will only lead to incidences of
cruelty. The Foundation would do much better to send people with an
agricultural background to show them how to coax grain and vegetables
from their poor land. They will probably need help finding water resources
along with sending them seeds and fertilizer as well as tools which will
make farming easier for them.

I think providing them with live animals is the last thing they need to be healthily
nourished. They need an agricultural plan which will be a constantly renewing
means of providing food for their families. All of us can benefit from becoming
more vegetarian or at least cutting down considerably from a meat lifestyle which
has been proven unhealthy -not only for us but for our environment as well.

Can you believe that even Gandhi in the 40's warned against the devastation of a
world committed to eating meat. He wisely noted that the world could not sustain
such a condition. His words are being proven over and over again. Sadly, too many
people prefer to ignore not only his words but the words of environmental scientists
and health practioners.