Friday, September 24, 2010

Meatless Monday's - Pledge to not eat meat

Meatless Monday's
Pledge to not eat meat on Monday's.

This is absolutely no expectation to make everyone a vegetarian.  A pledge to not eat meat is more making a stand against the global travesties that the current meat industries place on our planet.  Learning to consume less meat, to not see it as a necessity at every meal is a crucial lesson each American (and human) needs to learn. 

According to the USDA, Americans now consume 222 pounds of meat per person (stats from 2007) compared to 144 pounds per person in 1950, this is nearly double in a little over 50 years!.1  The amount includes 66lbs of beef per person per year, and 87 lbs of chicken per person per year, with pork, veal, lamb, and turkey not far behind..  As shown below, this means Americans consume over 41 million cows per year and over 13 billion chickens per year.  These numbers are only expected to rise, unless we start to change the way we live and eat. 


307 million people * 222 lbs meat = 68,154,000,000 lbs of meat consumed by Americans (68 trillion)

492lbs = Yield of meat on steer2
307 million people * 66 lbs beef1 = 20,262,000,000 lbs beef (20 billion)
20 billions lbs meat/492 lbs yielded meat = 41,182,926 cows (41.1 million)

2lbs = Yield of meat on chicken3
307 million people * 87 lbs chicken1 = 26,709,000,000 lbs chicken (26 billion)
26 billion lbs chicken meat/2lbs yielded meat = 13,354,500,000 chickens (13.3 billion)


So what?  So humans eat cows and chicken and other livestock and many say this is “natural” and that it is not a big deal.  Once again, I am not trying to turn everyone into vegetarians.  I am only trying to have each person limit the amount of meat consumed based on the glaring environmental impact that meat production has on our earth, based on the quantities of meat that American’s demand.  As shown below, it takes over 20 trillion gallons of water to produce the amount of beef that American’s consume, as well as 114 trillion pounds of corn.

2,500 gallons water = 1lb beef4
Americans consume 20 billion lbs beef = 20,655,000,000,000 gallons water (20 trillion gallons)
492lbs (1 steer) * 2,500 = 1,230,000 gallons of water per steer

2,800 lbs corn = 1 steer5
Americans consume 41 million cows = 114,800,000,000 lbs corn (114 trillion lbs corn)
2,800 lbs corn / 492lbs (1 steer)  = 5.69 lbs corn per lb of beef

**Conflicting figures were found for the amount of water and grain needed to produce one pound of beef.  According to John Robbins in Food Revolution, 5,214 gallons of water are needed for 1lb of beef and 16lbs of grain.  This is considerably larger than the figures I used for my calculations (see sources).  I chose to go with the smaller figures as it shows that the impact is still huge, so just image if I used John Robbins figures how monumental the results could be.  I will change the figures if and when I find the most credible source.

So if each American chooses to remove meat from their diet just once per week, as the RMOG Pledge proposes, how much impact will this make?  Let’s say that we shed off eating 1oz of meat per week (suggested serving for meat) and multiply that by 52 weeks, leaving each of us with 3.25lbs less of consumed meat per year.  This will reduce the amount of meat consumed by Americans by nearly 1 trillion pounds!!  This may not seem like much, but as shown below, this constitutes a savings of over 2 trillion gallons of water and over 5 billion pounds of corn (assuming, for simplicity, that all of this meat was beef).  So by simply giving up only one ounce of meat per week, look at the impact you, just one person, could have on our planet.  Choose to give up a few more ounces and see how the results will multiply.

1oz meat per week * 52 weeks = 52 oz / 16oz per pound = 3.25lbs meat

307 million people * 222 lbs meat = 68,154,000,000 lbs of meat consumed by Americans (68 trillion)

307 million people * 219 lbs meat = 67,233,000,000 lbs of meat consumed by Americans (67 trillion)

921,000,000 lbs of meat saved per year by eating 3lbs less meat per year

921 millions lbs meat (assuming beef) * 2,500 gallons water per lb = 2,302,500,000,000 gallons water saved (2 trillion)

921 millions lbs meat (assuming beef) * 5.69 lbs corn per 1b meat = 5,240,490,000 lbs corn saved (5 billion)

I won’t get into how that water and grain could be instead used, as it should be fairly obvious to most of you.  However, the most important fact about these savings is the other global crises we are facing, such as water shortages, deforestation (in order to grow grain and raise the livestock), the huge controversy over our seed supplies and GMO’s (aka Monsanto), and the use of antibiotics and the growing resistance of these antibiotics.  Reducing our consumption of meat will also help ease these other crises, or at least help prevent them from getting any larger.

Raising livestock at the rate American’s demand has other monumental environmental impacts, such as deforestation, CO2 byproducts, and CO2 transportation costs.  Once again, the grain required to feed livestock is enormous.  As stated by the Vegetarian Guide, “cattle consume 16 times as much grain as they produce meat, so right there we have 16 times as much energy just to grow these crops, just so we can waste them on livestock.”  The CO2 byproduct from livestock is also a huge concern with the issue of greenhouse gasses in our environment, not to mention the CO2 from transporting the livestock by truck, boat, train, or other means.  Simply put, the energy used to produce meat is colossal. 

Many people do not put the raising of livestock together with deforestation, yet it is a serious issue.  According to GreenPlanetAwards.com, “The United Nations estimates that in the Brazilian Amazon, 70% of the deforestation has been done for cattle grazing”7.  The site’s article also explains that Brazil is the leading exporter in beef (more than those countries ranked 2nd and 3rd combined) as well as soya, which supplies much of the world with livestock feed.  Explained further, “The rainforests act as the air conditioners to the world, providing much of the world’s fresh water, and regulating the overall temperature. But when they are burned down, they release CO2 into the atmosphere and disrupt the ecosystem of the entire planet.” 

Another important consideration when choosing whether or not to eat meat is regarding the use of antibiotics in our meat.  According to Princeton University, 80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are given to farm animals8.  “When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the bacteria resistant to these drugs live to reproduce”, as www.keepantibioticsworking.org explains and this is creating stronger and stronger strains of bacteria that are becoming more difficult to control and treat.  When you consume meat, you are subsequently ingesting a large amount of antibiotics as well.  Not only is this facilitating the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but also consuming large amounts of meat it is making you less resistant to antibiotics for when you might actually need them.

There is much upheaval about the inhumane treatment of the animals and although this deserves attention, I will not be touching on the practice of raising livestock, as this blog is about “going green” and not animal rights.  I will leave you with a thought to ponder on however, as many experts have referenced the raising of animals to be similar to “Concentration Camps”.

Reducing your consumption of meat can help the world in so many ways.  It will help will preserve our most precious resource – water, will ease the demand for land for raising livestock and their grain, curbing deforestation, help keep our antibiotics working (and keep you from getting sick so often), and helping to bring back harmony to our ecosystem.

I hope you will join The Real Meaning of GREEN in making a pledge to not consume meat on Monday’s.

9: http://www.keepantibioticsworking.com/new/resources_library.cfm?refID=69872

No comments:

Post a Comment