Pollution from the use of fossil fuels, animal methane, effluent waste, and water and land consumption are some of the environmental problems linked with meat production. The global livestock industry is one of the most polluting industries in terms of greenhouse gases, water pollution, and soil degradation. Every year, livestock production accounts for up to 14% of total carbon dioxide emissions from human activities.
The meat we eat has a large impact on the environment due to the intensive agriculture practices used by farmers to produce animals for food. Livestock production affects the climate through three main processes: direct emission of greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide; land use changes caused by moving herds to new areas; and pollution from manure and other substances drained into local waterways.
The global livestock industry emits about 16 billion tons of CO2 a year, more than the entire airline industry. That's almost 2% of the world's total CO2 emissions. The amount is expected to grow because of rising meat consumption in developing countries like China and India.
Animal agriculture is one of the most resource-intensive industries in terms of water usage and energy consumption. For example, raising a single chicken requires as much energy as driving a car 100 miles.
2. It contributes to climate change. Meat has a massive climate impact—roughly equivalent to all of the driving and flying of every car, truck, and plane on the planet. When forests are destroyed to make industrial meat, billions of tonnes of CO2 are emitted into the atmosphere, hastening global warming.
3. It contributes to water pollution. The mass production of meat uses a lot of water - about 9 billion gallons per day in the United States alone. The majority of this water is returned to nature through sewage treatment plants rather than discharged into rivers and other waterways. However, much of it is also lost through leaks and spills during transportation and storage.
4. It contributes to soil degradation. Agriculture takes up a large portion of the world's landmass and plays a major role in the degradation of Earth's top layers of soil. Degraded soils can't retain as much water or nutrients, which leads to further degradation. Every year, hundreds of thousands of acres of forest are cleared for livestock production, which increases the risk of deforestation.
5. It contributes to air pollution. The raising of animals for food produces greenhouse gases and other pollutants that lead to global warming and environmental destruction. This practice requires extensive land use and pollutes our water sources and the air we breathe.
6. It contributes to animal cruelty. Far from being meat-free zones, many supermarkets sell products containing meat ingredients.
Environmentally friendly meat Scientists have been able to calculate the environmental effect of various meats using a process known as Life Cycle Analysis. Grass-eating, methane-producing animals like cows and sheep are the worst culprits. Pigs and chickens thrive better because their diets are more varied. However, pigs and chickens produce more waste per unit of food consumed than do cows and sheep. Overall, pork has a greater impact on the environment than beef, and chicken is more sustainable than fish.
In general, dairy products are more damaging than other animal proteins because of the need for large amounts of water to produce a single gallon of milk. Eggs also require much water consumption because they come from living creatures. Fish do not produce any waste at all; therefore, they are considered to be environmentally friendly. Flour production requires a lot of energy and emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, so eating flour-based foods such as bread, cakes, and pastries every day can actually have a negative impact on the environment.
Freezing or cooking meat extensively changes its environmental profile. Freezing meat is the most efficient way to preserve it, but it uses up much more energy than eating it fresh. Cooking meat over a fire or in a pot reduces its environmental impact significantly. Eating less meat would be the best way for everyone to reduce their impact on the environment. One animal's life means too much suffering and death.