Is meat a sustainable food? In 2006, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization released a revealing report that showed animal agriculture may potentially contribute more to global climate change than cars, producing roughly 18% of the greenhouse gases that human activities add to the atmosphere each year.
And the environmental damage caused by large scale industrial production of meat doesn’t stop there — improperly handled animal waste from factory farms has been implicated as the cause of poisoned crop fields and contaminated water supplies.
Inform, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, recently created a video, The Secret Life of Beef, that highlights several major environmental problems associated with industrial farming of cattle for meat.
It’s a great quick summary of the primary reasons why many environmentalists and sustainable food advocates are concerned about the industrialized world’s ever-increasing consumption of beef. Vegetarians who are tired of explaining their dietary choices to skeptical relatives over Thansgiving dinner, take note: The Secret Life of Beef could serve as a good introduction, for the uninitiated, to the environmental argument for vegetarianism.
But for the benefit of eco-conscious omnivores, Inform’s video also highlights the efforts of environmentally-conscious farmers who are working to promote more humane, eco-friendly methods of producing beef.
Photo by Jon Sullivan. Public domain. From Wikimedia Commons.