It’s Been Said: Vegetarianism will Save the Earth
With Earth Day quickly approaching, media outlets and activists are raising their voices – and often against agriculture. The Sacramento Bee ran an editorial from Heather Moore, PETA Foundation, on her plans for celebrating Earth Day. She advocates eliminating meat from diets – all meats – chicken, pork, beef and fish.
Huffington Post is advocating a week-long challenge, kicking off with meatless Monday. The article claims several negative environmental impacts of raising animals for meat.
Can - or should - one group or one person’s opinion change your mind on removing meat from your diet? How much land would the world need to survive on a vegan diet? Is that even possible and what’s the environmental impact?
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USFRA represents all farmers and ranchers, including meat, produce and grain farmers. These articles focus heavily on agriculture and the “negative” impacts farming and ranching have on the environment. But why put so much focus on whether a person shouldn’t eat meat –what about all the reasons why people should eat meat? Shouldn’t the article mention the positive impacts of grazing land that’s unsuitable for crop production? Or the vast improvements made within the agricultural sectors to help the environment? Consumers should be given food choices. Consumers should have the opportunity to hear both sides and get information on the entire picture – showing all the positive impacts of farming. Here is some research and information:
- According to research by Dr. Jude Capper, Department of Animal Sciences, Washington State University, each pound of beef raised in 2007 compared to 1977 used:
- 33 percent less land;
- 12 percent less water;
- 19 percent less feed;
- 9 percent less fossil fuel energy
- These environmental improvements resulted from more efficient ways in which cattle are raised and fed in the United States, which yielded 13 percent more total beef from 30 percent fewer animals between 1977 and 2007.
- The Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas carbon footprint study, together with data from additional studies measuring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helps validate that total U.S. dairy GHG emissions are approximately 2 percent of total U.S. emissions.
- The carbon footprint study identifies opportunities for efficiency and innovation across the fluid milk supply chain, including feed efficiency, manure management, energy management and fuel efficiency. A key finding indicates that management practices are an important driver of the carbon footprint for farms, plants and transportation fleets, rather than the geographic region, business model, or size of the farm or organization.
- Swine production only contributes 0.35% to the overall national greenhouse gas inventory and yet U.S. pork producers have plans for furthering their management practices to improve the environment, focusing on reducing their air, land, water and carbon footprints.
- Pork industry invests funds into researching ways to improve management practices to lower their environmental imprints, and have partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and universities on investigating imprints made by U.S. swine.
It’s certainly difficult to decipher the overwhelming amount of studies and information available. When reading these articles about celebrating Earth Day, remember that one person or group’s voice shouldn’t make you change your daily practices or diet regimen. USFRA encourages consumers to use reputable sources for data on the environmental impacts of raising animals for human consumption. A majority of land available is not suited for crop production. Grazing animals on land not suitable for producing crops more than doubles the land area that can be used to produce food. Cattle, for instance, serve a valuable role in the ecosystem by converting plants humans cannot consume into a nutrient-dense food. Above all, farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land – it’s where they live, raise families and work.
Share this article on your social media outlets and raise your voice about your plans for celebrating Earth Day. Farmers and ranchers share your stories of continuous improvements that benefit the environment on the USFRA Facebook page or e-mail them to us at email@example.com.
- Beef’s Shrinking Environmental Fact Sheet
- Raising Sustainable Beef – A Scientists POV
- Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review Environmental Section
- Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review
- Dairy Carbon Footprint Study
- Pork Industry’s Carbon Footprint Facts
- National Lifecycle Carbon Footprint Study of U.S. Swine