Your Food Choices Affect The Environment More Than A Plastic Straw
Start writing a post
Community

Your Food Choices Affect The Environment More Than A Plastic Straw

"We could see fishless oceans by 2048."

1325
Your Food Choices Affect The Environment More Than A Plastic Straw
Selena Spezio

Recently there has been a huge push for the removal of plastic straws to "save the turtles." Plastic has become a major conversation when it comes to the impact it has on the environment but is plastic the only thing harming the environment?

The answer to that question is heck to the no.

The clothes you wear, the car you drive, the house you live in, the food you eat, it all has an impact on the environment. Plastic is just one of the hundreds of factors that encourage the decline of our earth. Every decision you make has an impact on the earth.

Everyone who is conscious of their impact on the environment by not using a straw, it's great that you're deciding to help the earth a little, but what if there really was more than you could do, that can make an even greater impact!

You have to look at the bigger picture.

My main focus of change in this article is consuming fewer animal products, and maybe consider going vegan. It's such an incredible lifestyle filled with passion and so much accomplishment. When you make the change, you are putting other creatures before yourself.

Here is some food for thought, all these facts are straight from Conspiracy, an incredible documentary that dives deep into the impact of animal agriculture on our environment. I've seen it 5 times now and every time I learn something new.

"Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions."

It's not just cars and other forms of transportation hurting our atmosphere.

Goodland, R Anhang, J. "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?"

Goodland, Robert & Anhang, Jeff. "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs and chickens?". WorldWatch. November/December 2009

Hickman, Martin. "Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases". Independent. November 2009

Hyner, Christopher. "A Leading Cause of Everything: One Industry That Is Destroying Our Planet and Our Ability to Thrive on It". Georgetown Environmental Law Review. October 23, 2015. (New)

"Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years."

150 years and more of damage done.. wow.

"Livestock' Long Shadow: environmental issues and options". FAO. Rome. 2006

"Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States". U.S. Energy Information Administration. March 31, 2011

"Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption."

That water you're saving by taking shorter showers is nothing compared to the amount of water you could save if you reduced your meat intake.

"How Important is Irrigation to U.S. Agriculture?" USDA: Economic Research Service. 12 October, 2016

"2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef."

Home Water Works estimates that an average American used 17.2 gallons of water per shower. 17.2 gallons for a shower compared to an average of 2,500 gallons for one pound of beef???? Insane.

For more reference, an infographic provided by Cowspiracy states, 1 hamburger = 660 gallons of water = 2 months of showering.

"(NOTE. The amount of water used to produce 1lb. of beef vary greatly from 442 - 8000 gallons. We choose to use in the film the widely cited conservative number of 2500 gallons per pound of US beef from Dr. George Borgstrom, Chairman of Food Science and Human Nutrition Dept of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, "Impacts on Demand for and Quality of land and Water." )"

Robbins, John. "2,500 gallons all wet?" Earth Save: Healthy People Healthy Planet.

Pimentel, David, et al. "Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues". BioScience (2004) 54 (10): 909-918. (New)

"Water Content of Things: Data Table 19". The World's Water 2008-2009

Beckett, J. L, Oltjen, J. W "Estimation of the Water Requirement for Beef Production in the United States". Journal of Animal Science. 1993. 71:818-826

"Water". Environmental Working Group.

"Water footprint of crop and animal products: a comparison". Water Footprint Network. (New)

"477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs;  almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese."

You thought it was just meat didn't you? Nope. All animal products have a huge impact on the environment.

"Water". Environmental Working Group.

"Food Facts: How Much Water Does it Take to Produce...?" Water Education Foundation. (New)

"5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture."

Ouch.

Jacobson, Michael F. "Six Arguments For a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could Save Your Health and the Environment. Chapter 4: More and Cleaner Water". Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.

"Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction."

This ones a kicker.

"Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and "competition" species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade as well as animal agriculture's impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources. [XIX]"

"Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification". comfortablyunaware: Global Depletion and Food Choice Responsibility. June 9, 2012

"Freshwater Depletion: Realities of Choice". comfortablyunaware: Global Depletion and Food Choice Responsibility. November 25, 2014

"What is a dead zone?" National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

"What Causes Ocean 'Dead Zones'?" Scientific American

"Nutrient Pollution: The Problem". Environmental Protection Agency

"Livestock's Long Shadow". Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations. 2006

Hogan, C Michael. "Causes of Extinction". The Encyclopedia of Earth. June 13, 2014

"The Habitable Planet. Unit 9: Biodiversity Decline// Section 7: Habitat Loss: Causes and Consequences". Annenberg Learner

"Impact of habitat loss on species". WWF Global

"How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet". Take Extinction Off Your Plate: a project of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Machovina, Brian, et al. "Biodiversity conservation: The key is reducing meat consumption". Science of the Total Environment 536 (2015) 419-431

"Risk Management Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2004Hance, Jeremy. "How humans are driving the sixth mass extinction". The Guardian. 20 October 2015 (New)

Zielinski, Sarah. "Ocean Dead Zones Are Getting Worse Globally Due to Climate Change". Smithsonian.com. November 10, 2014 (New)

Tilman, David, et al. "Agricultural sustainability and intensive production practices". Nature 418, 671-677. August 2002 (New)

Wilcove, David S, et al. "Quantifying Threats to Imperiled Species in the United States". BioScience. Vol. 48, No. 8 (Aug., 1998) pp. 607-615 (New)

"A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people."

2,500 cows = 411,000 people...

"Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations".Environmental Protection Agency. 2004

"For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill."

Think of all those beautiful dolphins and whales you see in the aquariums, they're being effected by fishing too.

"Discard and bycatch in Shrimp trawl fisheries". FAO: Fisheries and Aquaculture Department

"Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction."

91%...

Margulis, Sergio. "Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon". World Bank Working Paper No. 22. 2003

Tabuchi, Hiroko, Rigny, Claire & White, Jeremy. "Amazon Deforestation, Once Tames, Comes Roaring Back". New York Times. February 2017(New)

Bellantonio, Marisa, et al. "The Ultimate Mystery Meat: Exposing the Secrets Behind Burger King and Global Meat Production". Mighty Earth (New)

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won't Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

"Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. "

See all the change that one day can make. Imagine a lifetime of veganism.

Scarborough, Peter, et al. "Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK". Climactic Change July 2014., Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 179-192

"Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health". Environmental Working Group. 2011

Ranganathan, Janet & Waite, Richard. "Sustainable Diets: What You Need to Know in 12 Charts". World Resources Institute. April 2016 (New)

"How much have you saved?" The Vegan Calculator (New)

Ogden, Lillie. "The Environmental Impact of a Meat-Based Diet". Vegetarian Times. (New)

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won't Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/food-choice-and-sustainability-richard-a-oppenlander/1117327379?ean=9781626524354


I know that's a lot I just threw in there, but they're all incredible statistics and facts that are needed to understand exactly what goes into your food and why the change is necessary.

I applaud everyone who decides to make changes in their lives for the benefit of our earth, but there is always more that can be done, a step farther, a change that NEEDS to be done.

I was vegetarian for 7 years, and finally, around this time last year decided to go full vegan, a vegan lifestyle, from the food I eat to the products I buy, all free of any cruelty or animal products. It's a big change, but necessary. I have also decided to be more conscious about the impact my clothing has on the environment, and now I only buy second-hand items. That in itself is a hard switch because our society is so swallowed up by consumerism, it's an addiction that was very hard to fight against, and still is, but it's so powerful.

When you are changing your lifestyle for the benefit of someone else, whether an animal or the earth as a whole, it's such an incredible feeling because you're giving up your selfish desires for something so much greater than you, and it's so worth it.

If you've made it this far, I challenge you to try something different tomorrow, maybe choose a meat or dairy free meal instead of your usual, explore your options, do some research. I promise it will only be positive, there is nothing negative about changing something for the benefit of something much larger than you.

For more information on the effects of animal agriculture on our environment, I highly encourage everyone to watch Cowspiracy!

I have added the infographic because it is FILLED with amazing information, give it a look through!

Cowspiracy Infographic static1.squarespace.com

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web
Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Nothing! There is no reason to feel guilty about food and nourishing your body. It's time to make peace with food and stop focusing on the "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" because food does not have power over you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down With An Endocrinologist To Ask All My Questions About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There are so many moving parts of hormonal health, so I went to an expert.

2592
Anjanette Tan

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Any woman who has PCOS can attest to the fact that no two cases are the same — there are so many aspects of hormonal health that can impact a woman's reproductive health! For many, PCOS is a trial and error condition, with many doctors' appointments depending on the stage of life the woman is in.

This week I sat down with Dr. Anjanette Tan to get the expert opinion on all my PCOS questions. Dr. Tan is a board-certified endocrinology who's worked in private practices since 2004. She currently works at the Diabetes and Thyroid Center of Fort Worth, one of the largest all-endocrine practices in the area, where she is the managing partner and head of clinical research.

Keep Reading... Show less

- Since I can remember, I've always been a light sleeper, with the quietest sounds waking me up, and I regularly wake up with the sun.

- While talking to a gynecologist friend of mine, she mentioned the importance of using an eye mask for quality sleep, which regulates hormonal levels.

- I was serendipitously sent the Crane & Canopy Silk Sleep Mask almost right after that conversation and was honestly reluctant to try it after testing other sleep masks that felt uncomfortable and irritated my skin.

- This sleep mask was extremely comfortable, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I slept in far past when I usually do on the weekends and woke up feeling more refreshed than I can remember — I've worn it nearly every night since then.

The older I get, it seems that sleep becomes an increasingly important topic of conversation amongst my friends and me. Yes, of course we complain about how tired we always are, but the pattern seemed to be a lack of sleep on the weekdays followed by late nights and sleeping in on the weekends without any solution.

Keep Reading... Show less

As college students, sometimes life can be overwhelming. Four tests in a week and you only passed one of them? I feel that. Days like that, you just need time for yourself. A time where you're nice to yourself and put your own self-care before anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Smile Project Just Launched An Ambassador Program, And I Can't Wait To Get Started

Looking to shift your perspective, be happier, or just get involved in something truly amazing? Look no further.

568

The Smile Project is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading happiness, founded by Elizabeth Buechele. It all started on a random day in the fall of her senior year. She was driving home from school when this thought crossed her mind: "Day 1: Happiness is…those perfect car rides where the radio just plays all the right songs."

Keep Reading... Show less

I'll never forget the day that someone told me these words: "Madison, I think you're a good friend to everyone but yourself." I stood there completely in awe of that statement. Before that day, I never really thought about being a friend to myself, and at the time, I didn't really know what it meant. Now, I realize that you can't fully be there for other people unless you're there for yourself, too. You can't show up for others until you're willing to show up for yourself.

Here are five things everyone should learn in order to be a better friend to themselves. These steps are hard, but they're so worth it.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's no secret that social media can be harmful to our mental health. The barrage of heavily edited photos of Instagram models that we see every day only fuels our insecurities. There is a good side to social media, though. It allows us to keep up with friends and family across the globe. Plus, it provides a platform for mental health experts. Listed below are five therapists on Instagram who will fill your feed with motivational quotes and positive infographics.

Keep Reading... Show less
Netflix

Last week, Netflix released its original film "The Devil All the Time," based on the 2011 novel of the same name. Directed by Antonio Campos, the film boasts an all-star cast including Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Riley Keough, and Tom Holland.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

In Honor of PCOS Awareness Month, I Researched 25 Things About The Autoimmune Disease

Ongoing research is further promoting the fact that engaging in a proper diet and exercise regimen can alleviate many symptoms!

1148

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects young women, especially those of reproductive age. Women with PCOS often exhibit symptoms ranging from increased levels of the male hormone androgen along with cysts in their ovaries. However, ongoing research is further promoting the fact that engaging in a proper diet and exercise regimen can alleviate many symptoms! Here are 25 things I found out about PCOS.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

To The Boy Who Said I Was 'Unlovable' Because Of My Back Rolls, My Body Is NOT A Problem

I realized I need to stop blaming myself for staying single. The problem wasn't me. It was you.

469
Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash

I told you I was going to be okay if you said what was on your mind, but honestly, nothing could've prepared me for the words that came out of your mouth. After getting off of the phone with you, I burst into tears. Those words shattered my heart and continuously repeated in my head.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments