The Effects of Meat-Based Diets on the Environment

Topics: Meat, Agriculture, Livestock Pages: 4 (1467 words) Published: February 25, 2013
The Effects of Meat-Based Diets on the Environment
According to study, around 2.5 million years ago, humans abandoned their vegetarian habits and adopted a more omnivorous diet in the era of the genus Homo. In 1999, researchers were not sure whether the bite marks they found on 2.5 million year old animal bones were made by humans or not. Peter Ungar (2003) of the University of Arkansas made an analysis that concluded the bite marks were indeed from the first members of the Homo generation (1). Eating meat has developed into a necessary part of human culture over the course of the millions of years. Although, consuming meat also has a big impact on the environment.

One of the biggest impacts done by eating meat is the depletion of resources, especially because a generous amount of water is used for livestock. With more than 1.7 billion farm animals in the world, it is approximately triple the amount of humans (4). Research shows that it takes 441 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, on the other hand, it only takes 14 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat. The meat industry is one of the major reasons why we are depleting in fresh water. Ed Ayres (1999) of the World Watch Institute found the following: Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry. India, China, North Africa and the U.S. are all running freshwater deficits, pumping more from their aquifers than rain can replenish (2). Raising cattle is also very damaging; they create wreckage to the environment through over-grazing, soil erosion, desertification, natural waste, and tropical deforestation to make room for farms and soy fields for feed (8). Dr. David Brubaker, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable Future, states that, "The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water,...
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