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Is Meat The World’s Most Inefficient Food?

Is Meat The World’s Most Inefficient Food?

I’m pretty confident that there will never be a day when all the world is in agreement about the best human diet. I’m an omnivore myself, but I have friends who swear by their paleovegetarian, and vegan diets. All of us can make compelling arguments about why we eat the way we do, and all of us can make valid criticisms of diets that are unlike our own.

For me, deciding how and what to eat required a close examination of the values and principles that truly matter to me. The type of food we consume has immediate health and economic consequences, but it also has a significant impact on our environment.

As the infographic below explains, the manner and scale at which our society currently raises animal for human consumption contributes to climate change in major way. It also wastes water, pollutes our soil, and contaminates fresh water supplies.

Now, I’m not saying that you’re to blame for climate change because you enjoy hamburgers. But if you’re really trying to live a low-impact life, eating less meat (and ensuring that the meat you do eat is raised by responsible farmers and ranchers) could help you shrink your carbon footprint a lot faster than buying a hybrid or skipping showers.

Veganism by the numbers.

Related Reading:

The Importance Of Being Vegan

Subway Goes Vegan: Rolls Out 3 New Sandwiches

10 Arguments Against A Vegan Lifestyle


Read more: , , , ,

Top Image via Thinkstock Infographic by CulinarySchools.org

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321 comments

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10:24AM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

Something I stumbled upon completely by chance the other day was a news report about research into crop rotation. We mostly know about the harsh and intensive way that crops are grown I guess - masses of chemical fertiliser ad herbicides to rip as much as possible from the struggling earth. This research (I probably need to track down the actual source, though there is a basic article on the New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/a-simple-fix-for-food/ ) basically compared the 'usual' way of farming with a few experimental approaches, one of which involved dedicating one year of the rotation cycle to pasturing animals on the land. And the results were impressive. Adding animals into the rotation pattern lead to an 88% reduction in required fertiliser etc requirement, and a 200fold reduction in ground water toxins with no loss in profit.

Now this is just one article and I haven't looked into it in so much detail yet, but it is a fairly good indication that, as one might expect, massive black and white ideas along the lines of 'eliminating meat production will save the world' are far too simplistic.

12:03AM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Dale, Scott must have been thawed out with the woolley mammoth in Siberia, because lions, tigers, cheetas, and in fact, all felines are obligate carnivores......ie., they MUST have meat OR they will become very ill. We who are human and eat meat are not carnivores. Scott seems to be in need of a dictionary.

11:52PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Interesting to see that vegans are a tiny minority in India as I generally hear about many of the vegetarians living there and rarely vegans. Find that Jainism in India is fascinating as they refuse to eat root veggies because they fear pulling them up harms small insects but do eat cheese and drink milk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

Scott P states: "Dale O: "obligate carnivores" died out with the dinosaurs... The eating of flesh is either a conscious or instinctual choice but not an act of survival." Tell that to a cat, which is a pure obligate carnivore. Felines rule and are here to stay!




11:27PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Thanks, Gerald. I knew that there are vegans in India, same as there are vegans in probably most countries that have any ties to the outside world in some way, BUT if you read the ramblings BY vegans in Care.2, they predominate the population in India. Of course, those that are making those accusations are for the most part, male and they become angry, agitated and soon very hostile and disrespectful should a FEMALE refute their "stats" or remarks. Only one comment from one female vegan in India that I recall,and that was last night and she is very young, claims a boatload of stuff that I know to be ridiculously inaccurate, but at least was not rude........just living in some fantasy world.

11:06PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Diane in response to my quote below : if we subtract the deceitfull stats of all the vegans in India.

Maybe i did not word that right, the vegans are pumping up the stats for India, there are many lacto-vegetarians etc. Check the links i added, i wanted to get an idea of the % of vegans in India, and opened up these 2 links on the first google page.

Diane you asked : Is this a case of OUR science TRUMPS "their" science or what?

From what i am finding, the reality that TRUTH, www.epa.gov is being TRAMPLED by Peta's LIES in their infographs.

Peta dogma; Do Not Kill, but DO LIE to promote our cause !



9:58PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Hmmm, Gerald, interesting. I'm on the same side as you and we think alike, but just curious, you said that there are virtually no vegans in India, yet at least two discussions going on in Care.2 right now have had comments made from members who claim they either live in India or did or quote from some study (that is a vegan-based study) which states otherwise. Is this a case of OUR science TRUMPS "their" science or what?

8:04PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

patty m. quote : Where is the 'moderation' in the fact that 7 billion humans currently bring into existence, 'grow' and then kill some 62 Billion land animals and 1-3 Trillion sea animals EVERY year to satisfy their taste buds. I'm sorry, but this is not moderation, it's tilting the whole balance of nature

Taking my calculator & dividing 62 billion by 7 billion = 8.85 land animals, per human, and if we subtract the deceitfull stats of all the vegans in India.

http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?671-Veganism-in-India

Veganism as a concept is practically unknown in India, as this starry-eyed idealist learned when she attempted to keep the faith

Read more: http://forbesindia.com/article/recliner/being-vegan-in-india/4482/1?id=4482&pg=1#ixzz2IZuouVNh

patty if we bump up the # of animals consumed per omnivore to 9, of that would i consume 1 steer, 1 pig , 1 turkey and 6 chickens. MORE Peta propaganda and lies. So if the steer is 900 lbs. + 200 lb. pig + 20 lb. turkey + 6 free range chickens @ 12 lb. = 1192 lb. divided by 365 days = 3.26 lb. a day. So i should eat 1 lb. bacon for breakfast, 1 lb. chicken for lunch and a 1 1/4 lb. steak for supper.

patty better watch all that estrogen in the soy, and i have not even indulged in my 1-3 trillion sea animals

6:30PM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Thanks Lynda Send a Green Star to Lynda H.

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Have a look at the bottom of the “statistics” - the tiny fine print. These “statistics” were brought to you by PeTA, vegan websites, and the vegan branch of Culinary Schools.org. They tell lies to manipulate people into becoming vegs. Don’t let them fool you!

10:18PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Clarity, Quit growing corn and grains for CAFOperations and Cattle Feedlots. This will eliminate most of the 68% Nitrous Oxide emissions from Agricultural Soil Management. It will also minimize most large scale tillage tractors, combines, grain storage facilities, negate the need for synthetic fertilizer and petroleum and potash mining. Minimize trucking of synthetic fertilizer, seed & harvested grains, herbicides and pesticide use, gmo seed.

If 70% of grains & cereals grown are fed to farm animals, this figure will plummet if GRASS GRAZING BECOMES the NORM. Free range = free fertilization, weed control.

The WATER consumption Stats of 2400 gallons = 1 lb. of meat, means a dressed steer carcass weighing 833 lbs. would consume 2 MILLION GALLONS are skewed.

The GROUNDWATER & Stream pollution is mainly caused by Synthetic Fertilizer, CAFO, and Cattle Feedlot Runoff. If we return to grass grazing synthetic fertilizer is eliminated.

16 lbs. of grain = 1 lb. meat is bogus, free range turkeys will not even finish their starter rations, they desire natural forage and insects. A 27 lb. turkey after 6/7 is not bad with no feed inputs.

And lastly by EPA stats not PETA only 6% of US Nitrous Oxide emissions are caused by manure management, if dung was dropped in the fields, this stat would probably drop.

9:40PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

Infograph LIES, Nitrus Oxide, the meat, egg and dairy industries produce 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.

ref. http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/n2o.html ; US Nitrous Oxide Emissions by Source

6% manure management

68% Agricultural Soil Management (application of synthetic fertilizer)

7% Transportation

8% Industry & Chemical (synthetic products eg. to replace natural wool, leather etc.)

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