Why Vegan? There’s More to Climate Change than Fossil Fuels

Why Vegan? Animal Agriculture and Forest DestructionDid you know that the key actors in climate change are cows, pigs, and chickens! Animal Agriculture is THE leading cause of environmental destruction, ocean dead zones, habitat destruction, and species extinction.

I thought that if I drove less and showered less, if I ate organic and used fewer plastic bags, I could turn climate change around for my daughters and future generations. What I really need to do is stop eating meat and dairy for a real and faster return to climate stabilization and environmental sustainability.

Why Vegan?

Animal Agriculture produces more greenhouse gasses than all cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes combined.

Methane gas from livestock is 86 times more destructive than carbon from vehicles. Animal Agriculture produces 65% of the world’s nitrous oxide, a gas with a global warming potential 296 times greater than Co2. 

If we reduce the amount of methane emissions from Animal Agriculture, the level in the atmosphere goes down within decades. If we reduce the amount of Co2 emissions from our transportation needs, we won’t see a reduction in the atmosphere for 100 years.

Why Vegan? Dead zones are often caused by the decay of algae during algal blooms, like this one off the coast of La Jolla, San Diego, California.The health of our oceans also begins with animal Agriculture.

Farm animal waste produced by land based animal agriculture (116,000 lbs produced every second in the U.S. alone) has created more than 500 nitrogen-flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans, comprising more than 95,000 sq miles of areas completely devoid of life.

Why aren’t Greenpeace, Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, and other sea-loving organizations focusing on Animal Agriculture? They believe it would hurt their fundraising.

One hamburger uses 660 gallons of water to produce — that’s 2 months of showers!

30% of the world’s water, and 55% of U.S. water, is used for animal agriculture. The average Californian uses 1500 gallons of water per day. Half is related to the consumption of meat and dairy products. Animals eat water intensive grains and these are part of the water footprint of that meat or dairy product.

Animal Agriculture consumes 34 trillion gallons of water per year. Fracking uses 100 billion gallons per year.

Why Vegan? Smoke from man made forest fires to clear land for cattle or crops.Cattle ranching is the the leading cause of rain forest loss.

One acre of rain forest is cleared every second to to graze animals and grow their feed crops. 136 million acres lost to date. Every day almost 100 species are lost due to rain forest destruction.

Livestock are a major driver of global trends in land-use including deforestation (the conversion of forest to pasture and cropland), desertification, and the release of carbon from cultivated soils.

Is the Problem Over Population or Animal Agriculture?

– The world’s 7 billion humans raise 70 billion farm animals.
– The world’s humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water daily. The world’s 1.5 billion cows drink 45 billion gallons of water daily.
– The world humans eat 21 billion pounds of food daily. The world’s 1.5 billion cows eat 135 billion pounds of food daily.
– Nearly half of U.S. land is dedicated to animal Agriculture.

Globally, livestock production and consumption and contribute:

35% of methane (296 times times the Global Warming Potential of CO2). What this means is that if we stopped eating meat today, the planet would recover in a few decades  vs. the 100+ years recovery will take by reducing oil and gas emissions.

80% of agricultural methane emissions (2.2 billion tons of manure per year). If you’ve ever driven past a cattle farm you know what the stench means to passers by and the families who live and work near these factory farms.

This is the quote that put all the pieces together for me:

“You can’t be an environmentalist and eat animal products, period.”

Fossil fuels are not the problem Animal Agriculture is. I recently watched a film titled Cowspiracy on Netflix. It changed my priorities and my dietary choices. I interviewed Carol Adams and Lisa Kemmerer for our recent Feminism and Sustainability Telesummit, they tried to educate me/us on the impact of Animal Agriculture on climate change, but I didn’t get it. Cowspiracy got me, and I’m glad it did!

“Animal Agriculture is the alcoholic in the family no one wants to talk about. Raising and killing animals for food is what’s killing the planet — not driving our cars, and taking showers.”

Eating vegan can be as difficult as being an informed citizen. Dairy and meat are as available to us as violence on t.v. If we want a better world we have to educate ourselves, and our love for the world can’t be casual. I have gone off the vegan wagon a few times now, I’ve made a few attempts. Cowspiracy has helped me to get serious and join my granddaughters in their vegan lifestyle. I know I will be healthier and happier for it. I know I will be a better world citizen. And I know my spirit will be more at peace with my professional goals.

Here are the tools I’m using. I invite you to explore these books, and Veganism, with me:)