Letter: Compelling argument against meat
I read Steve Wells’ recent column, “Feds: Red Meat No Longer Green.” While I am not familiar with the report he referenced, I have become increasingly interested in this topic since stumbling upon the documentary film “Cowspiracy” recently. Based on my understanding of the dynamics at play, I think Mr. Wells has completely misconstrued the matter. As far back as 2006 the United Nations published a study which drew the conclusion that raising animals as our primary food source is an ecologically unsustainable model for a population as large as ours. A plant-based diet offers a much better alternative to feeding the masses of humanity.
The fact that we eat red meat is not in itself the culprit. Rather the large-scale, industrialized production of animals for food has far-reaching impacts few of us realize. I have eaten meat my entire life, but have to say that the ecological argument against is quite compelling, especially when one considers the economy of scale created by our planet’s ever-swelling population.
By 2012 estimates, there are 7 billion people on planet Earth (up from 1 billion in 1812 and 1.5 billion in 1912). Collectively we raise upwards of 70 billion head of livestock, which act as a continuous source of methane, a greenhouse gas than may actually be more prolific than carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.
Resource consumption is yet another issue. By some reports, a dairy cow must consume 3 gallons of water for each gallon of milk it produces. Calculating the raw tonnage of feed required to raise cattle versus the number of calories of food produced results in similarly skewed figures. Now take into consideration the acreage necessary to raise cattle, and compare that to the food yield the same land can produce in crops and the questions begin to mount in earnest. I urge anyone reading this to educate themselves on this topic. Only then can one make an informed, coherent argument.
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