If we are to halt climate change and conserve fossil fuels, water, land and other resources — and reduce animal suffering — then we must kick our meat habit (Letter, Sept. 9). About 10 billion cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys are killed for food each year in the U.S. alone. The sheer number of animals killed to satisfy people’s taste for flesh makes it impossible to raise and slaughter them all on small family farms. Animal abuse — and abusive industry practices — are the norm in factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Not only are animals suffering because people like the taste of their flesh, the environment is also being destroyed to raise animals for food. As a United Nations report revealed, the livestock sector is responsible for almost 50 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation. Animal agriculture is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide, and the single largest source of both nitrous oxide and methane, which is more than 20 times as powerful as carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in our atmosphere. The meat, egg and dairy industries are also responsible for heavy deforestation, and according to the World Resources Institute, deforestation is responsible for approximately 20 percent of all climate change emissions
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has implored people to have at least one meat-free day a week to help halt climate change. And when responding to criticism that measures to tackle climate change are partly to blame for the rise in food and energy costs, Yvo de Boer, the head of the United Nations climate agency, said, “The best solution would be for us all to become vegetarians.”
When you consider not only climate change but also water and air pollution, the water squandered on animal agriculture, the vast amounts of land needed to grow feed for animals, and all the edible crops that are fed to animals instead of to malnourished people, you’ll understand why refusing meat is a good solution to our environmental problems. For more facts, see GoVeg.com.
– Heather Moore
P.E.T.A. Research Specialist