Meat-Eaters, The Planet And The True Cost Of Consumer Culture
Meat-eaters may be abusing the planet beyond comprehension. For example, 87% of all U.S. agricultural land is used to raise animals for human consumption. This is 45% of the total land mass in the USA. More than one half of all water consumed in America is used to raise animals for human consumption. It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat while it takes just 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat. A vegetarian diet for one person requires 300 gallons of water per day to produce the food a vegetarian diet requires while a meat-eater’s diet requires over 4000 gallons of water every day. Furthermore, raising farm animals for human consumption contributes more water pollution than any other industry in the U.S. or 87,000 pounds per second which may too often end up contaminating water sources too. More than one third of all raw materials and fossil fuels used in the U.S. are used to raise animals for human consumption.
Producing just one hamburger patty takes the same amount of fossil fuel as it does to drive a car 20 miles and enough water to take 17 showers. Fifty five square feet of rain forests may be cleared to produce just one quarter pound hamburger and an acre of trees disappears in the U.S. every 8 seconds just to grow crops to feed the animals we raise for meat. To feed the animals takes 80% of the corn and 95% of the oats grown in the U.S. The livestock industry is accused of using up to 50% of the USA’s available water supply just to feed livestock.
Cattle alone eat the same amount of food that it would take to feed nearly 9 billion people which is more people than the entire population on earth, to date. Meat-eaters will leave behind a heavy environmental toll that future generations will be forced to cope with and pay for. In addition, meat-eaters may have up to a 50% chance of dying of a heart attack compared to vegetarians. Up to 60% of Americans dying each year may be dying from diseases possibly linked to meat consumption according to meat industry critics.
Each year 9 billion farm animals are killed for food not counting those which die of stress, suffocation, injuries and disease. Just one typical American meat-eater may be responsible for the death of up to 2400 farm animals each year which includes approximately 2287 chickens, 92 turkeys, 31 pigs and 12 cows and calves.
The average American consumes up to 5 times more than someone in Mexico, 10 times more than someone in China and 30 times more than someone in India. Americans are the most voracious consumers in the world but only make up 5% of the Earth’s population while consuming 25% of the Earth’s natural resources.
Americans over-consume to feel good and to impress. Consumer culture is greedy and as a result the planet Earth’s resources may be diminishing for future generations. The answer may be a simple one. Consume less…simplify your lifestyle.
American politics may possibly just need new political blood like a viable 3rd political party full of conservative environmentalists that lean green, Constitutional and libertarian. It would be a political party with ecological vision but with practical solutions, if mankind and the planet are ever to attain sustainability. A political party for genuine change would have to attract voters from the ranks of the agitators and the agitated.
Unfortunately, the reality is odds are the only way for a third political party to take hold and survive is today’s existing self-absorbed, wasteful, commercial consumer culture needs to die out and leave it to future decision makers to figure out how the planet and mankind can realistically make it to the year 3000. Of course, this could take hundreds of years to accomplish.
SUPPLEMENTAL SOURCES: PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS NOVEMBER 2000 and CONSUMER REPORTS MAGAZINE DECEMBER 1997 and THE ANIMAL PROTECTION INSTITUTE DECEMBER 1998 and ADBUSTERS MAGAZINE FALL 1997