By Andrew Puccetti
April 22 is Earth Day, and there are many ways to celebrate this important holiday and reduce your carbon footprint. For instance, did you know you can make a huge difference simply by changing your diet?
A 2006 University of Chicago study found that switching from a standard American diet to a plant-based diet is more effective in combating climate change than switching form a standard American car to a hybrid. Many other studies have come to similar conclusions. The facts all line up: A vegetarian diet is great for you and great for the environment.
The meat producing industry wastes a significant amount of energy. The list of energy using processes involved in producing your meat is huge: Growing the food it takes to feed the animals, transporting this food on large trucks, making the feed, transporting this feed to factory farms, operating the factory farms, transporting the animals, operating the slaughterhouses, processing the meat, transporting, the meat, keeping the meat refrigerated. Every single one of these processes involves energy using technology and over time the usage really adds up.
Factory farms also produce a huge amount of excrement. This has a very negative effect on the water that sustains earth. In fact, factory farms keep their animals’ waste in large lagoons—the waste often seeps out, effecting waterways and killing organisms who depend on this water.
They take pollution a step further by spraying the liquid manure into the air to fertilize cropland. People living around the sprayed area are forced to breathe in this stench and the bacteria that goes with it. And not only does meat production pollute water, it wastes it too—a vast amount of water is needed for the upkeep of the farms and their animals.
Of course, when keeping animals, land is needed. Because of this, there is deforestation, plant species extinctions, and soil erosion, all as a result of the land needed to fulfill our meat producing needs.
Our meat industry has a huge effect on the environment because of producers putting cost in front of the welfare of living creatures. So this Earth Day, think about going vegetarian.
For more ideas, check out Conscious Living: You Are What You Eat.
Andrew Puccetti may only be fifteen years old, but he has already shown immense dedication and passion for the well-being of animals. Every other week Andrew will be here talking about the relationship between young people and animal rights–how they can make a difference, how they are already making a difference, and how important it is for kids to continue the fight for our animal companions. Learn about Andrew’s non-profit organization Live Life Humane and check out his blog!