When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves.  ~David Orr

save the earth

Becoming mostly plant based is one of the most important and effective actions you can take to ease the strain on our earth’s limited resources, protect the planet from pollution, prevent global warming, and save countless species from extinction.

According to Dr. David Brubaker, PhD, at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, “The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.”

wasting resources

Feeding large amounts of grain to farmed animals in order to produce a small amount of meat is an inefficient waste of limited resources.According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, animal protein demands tremendous expenditures of fossil-fuel energy—about eight times as much for a comparable amount of plant protein.

The meat industry is a major cause of fresh water depletion. According to Ed Ayres, of the World Watch Institute, “Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry. India, China, North Africa and the U.S. are all running freshwater deficits, pumping more from their aquifers than rain can replenish.”

extinction is forever

Cattle grazing is a serious threat to endangered species, both in the western United States and in the rainforests of South America.

Just in the United States alone, grazing has contributed to the demise of 26% of federal threatened and endangered species.

In The Western Range Revisited, a 1999 book published by the University of Oklahoma, author Debra L. Donahue writes, “Grazing’s ecological impacts are more widespread than those of any other human activity in the West, and elimination of grazing holds greater potential for benefiting biodiversity than any other single land use measure” The situation is no better in South America where the rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate in order to clear the land for cattle grazing.

According to the United Nations, ranching-induced deforestation is one of the main reasons for the loss of plant and animal species in tropical rainforests.

It is estimated that for each hamburger made from rainforest beef, members of life forms from approximately 20 to 30 different plant species, 100 different insect species, and dozens of bird, mammals, and reptile species are destroyed.

global warming

A groundbreaking 2006 United Nations report found that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined

Luckily, we can help fix this problem by changing our diet.

According to a 2006 study done by researchers at the University of Chicago, most North Americans can reduce more greenhouse gas emissions by living more plant based than they can by switching to a hybrid electric car.

They found that eating a mostly plant based diet prevents the equivalent of 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions every year, more than the 1 ton of CO2 emissions prevented by switching from a typical large sedan to a Toyota Prius.

So why does meat cause so much global warming? There are a number of factors. Here are a few:

  • Manure. The tens of billions of farmed animals of the world produce massive amounts of manure, which emit green house gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.
  • Cow Burps. Ruminant animals such as cows and sheep, also emit huge quantities of methane via burping and flatulence. Methane has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2, and the livestock industry alone is responsible for 37 percent of human-induced methane emissions.
  • Deforestation. Forests are being destroyed to make room for cattle to graze or to grow crops to feed livestock. When the trees are cut down or burned, the CO2 they store escapes back into the air.
  • Synthetic Fertilizer. Growing feed for farmed animals requires intense use of synthetic fertilizers manufactured with fossil fuels. This process emits a tremendous amount of CO2, and the fertilizer releases nitrous oxide[3] — a greenhouse gas that is 296 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
  • Burning Fossil Fuels. The burning of fossil fuels releases CO2, one of the primary gases responsible for global warming. In addition to fertilizer manufacturing, the meat industry uses fossil fuels to heat the buildings that house the animals, to produce of all the crops to feed to the animals, and to transport, process, and refrigerate all of the meat. Cornell ecologist David Pimentel estimates that animal protein demands about eight times as much fossil fuel than for a comparable amount of plant protein.

Why should we care? Global warming is a problem that could have devastating long term consequences. As the National Resource Defense Council notes, if we don’t do something soon to prevent this, “Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas. Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense. Droughts and wildfires will occur more often. Disease-carrying mosquitos will expand their range. And species will be pushed to extinction.

Many of these changes have already begun.


Factory farms produce run-off that pollutes our streams and rivers, endangering not only the water supply for humans but also harming delicate eco-systems.

A U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee report concluded, “The threat of pollution from intensive livestock and poultry farms is a national problem.

According to the EPA, over 200 manure discharges and spills from U.S. animal farms between 1990 and 1997 have killed more than a billion fish. Animal feedlots can contaminate nearby well water with high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to miscarriages in humans as well as “blue baby” syndrome in infants.

Manure lagoons and spray fields from animal agriculture also pollute the air by emitting ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide.

According to a May 2003 article in the New York Times, “Around industrial hog farms across the country, people say their sickness rolls in with the wind. It brings headaches that do not go away and trips to the emergency room for children whose lungs suddenly close up. People young and old have become familiar with inhalers, nebulizers and oxygen tanks. They complain of diarrhea, nosebleeds, earaches and lung burns.” The article goes on to describe how air pollution from hog farms appears to have caused permanent brain damage in nearby residents.

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