The animal industry is ecologically destructive and highly wasteful whilst consuming the worlds resources and stealing from the worlds poor. During the 1980’s Ethiopian famine more grain was exported from the country for livestock feed than was raised as food aid. Whilst deforestation of the Ethiopian highlands for cattle grazing caused floods in Mozambique. Similarly cattle grazing for beef or leather products is a big contributor to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and 95% of Soya beans grown in cleared South American rainforests are used for animal feed. Almost 70% of all grain grown in developed countries is used to feed animals rather than eating it directly, this increases the environmental cost of processing, transportation, fertilizers and pesticides (which are derived from fossil fuels)
A University of Chicago study found that the ‘typical’ US diet generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet.
Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarce, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals.
Animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviours. Tens of thousands of pigs are crammed into dark concrete sheds where they go mad in their own excrement, biting at the tails and chewing football sized abscesses. Whilst in chicken sheds the ammonia from layers of excrement burns the feet and legs of the chickens. Genetic breeding of male chickens who are overfeed break their bones from growing to adult size before their bones have fully developed. Organic chickens are not much better off instead of 16 chickens per square meter it is 10.
Dairy production is directly linked to the meat industry and the killing of animals. 60% of beef in the UK comes from dairy cows. To produce this milk the cows must be regularly impregnated by artificial insemination. Selective breeding and the constant production of milk causes chronic skeletal problems, continual pain and exhaustion.
Millions of male calves and chicks are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan.
Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fibre and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, eczema, asthma and some cancers.
Another Dinner Is Possible, AK Press, 2009