• doormat posted an update 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Don’t worry about fossil fuel emissions…

    …worry about animals instead. Apparantly animal agriculture accounts for 51% of all global CO2 emissions. As fossil fuel CO2 emissions are far less than this, we should be focusing on reducing use of things like dairy and meat.

    Apparently. This is from a film called Cowspiracy I watched last week. It was thoughtprovoking in a conspiracy kind of way, but how true was it? Is it true that Greenpeace and other large environmental groups really are prevented/intimadated from talking about the impact on animal agriculture on the world? That they genuinely don’t know that animal agriculture is the leading cause of rainforest destruction? It’s plausible – but it’s such a large global industry, and the support industries (cereal production, big pharmaceutical companies etc) are so valuable too, that restricting it would lose some people a lot of money.

    I’m 50/50 about the ‘facts’. If the stories the film illustrates are true then it’s alarming. But it would also make independent fact checking by a regular person like me pretty difficult as there’s so much misinformation out there (which we already know happens/ed, eg tobacco, asbestos).

    I tried a vegan diet for a day – hated it. I now eat a bit less meat (but make sure it’s decent quality from a butcher), and have less dairy. Even if it makes no difference to the world, I feel better, and it costs me less so win win for me. But if it does make such a massive difference, perhaps we should all consider it for just one day a week. I make sure I don’t waste water, as much as I can. My savings are pitiful compared to if I ate 1kg less meat in a single year!!!

    Has anyone else seen it? Any thoughts?

    Some ‘facts’ from the film:
    2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.

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

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

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

    Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.

    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.

    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.

    80% of antibiotic sold in the US are for livestock.

    1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second, and…

    …The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.

    Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.

    1,100 Land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years.

    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.


    • “Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.”

      So less than 33% of total land area. Then …

      “Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.”

      Eh? How does that work?

    • I tried to click on the ‘Facts’ link, but after the second pop-up preventing me from reading their page I have closed it and returned with extra resolve to my original response, which is this is the usual vegan deliberate misinformation pushing a ‘don’t kill the animals because they are cute’ agenda with complete disregard to any other principles (e.g, truth)

      FYI, I do feel we have a responsibility to give animals a decent life, just don’t think killing them has anything to do with that equation and I enjoy eating their tasty nutritious flesh

    • The study (undertaken by vegans) on which this claim is based has been widely debunked as their methodology and assumptions were massively flawed at best, but more likely rigged to get an answer they wanted.

    • Look at your first two “facts”: what happens to that water? Is it just destroyed, never to be seen again?

      • That strikes me as a spurious thing to ask? I don’t think there’s any suggestion that the water vanishes

        In a world of increasing droughts and spreading desertification, and less predictable weather, using less water would seem to be a sensible thing to me, however renewable the supplies turn out to be.

    • I’m currently in the process of going ‘mostly vegetarian’, but am thinking about switching to vegan alternatives for cheese and milk after learning about the bond between cows and calves, I’ll probably end up eating organic chicken every so often and having vegan porridge and cheese, and more beans and things for my protein. It’s got to be helpful, whatever the actual figures about the environmental impact.

    • Don’t worry about fossil fuel emissions…
      ….worry about population instead.

      • Can we only worry/think about one thing at a time? 😉

        I think we’re going through a time of transitioning to using different sources of energy, and becoming more aware of how our diets and lifestyles effect the environment – and each other as a consequence too, which means that it’s important to try and get as broad a perspective as we can, rather than focusing on just one aspect of living on this planet.

    • It has long been known that our current Western high meat diet is a very inefficient way to feed an over-populated world. Recent protein rich diets almost definitely exacerbate the problems.

      This link is addressing a slightly different environmental question, but interesting that vegan doesn’t come out as the optimal solution.

      Being vegan isn’t as good for humanity as you think

    • Here are some ‘facts’ to wade through, rather than the hyperbole of cowspiracy

      Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO):

      – their site on livestock and the environment http://www.fao.org/livestock-environment/en/

      – their report on mitigating climate change through livestock http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3437e.pdf

      The FAO certainly does not have an ‘anti livestock / vegan ‘ agenda.

      (quick summary, yes, livestock is a really bad use of environmental resources.)

      • Thanks for the links. One of the main points of the film was how people were literally unable/unwilling to answer ‘simple’ questions:

        1. What is the greatest single contributor to CO2 emissions?

        2. What is the single biggest reasons for deforrestation?

        Apparently, there’s plenty of evidence showing it’s animal agriculture that answers yes to both of these Qs. They were unable to get any comment from organisations like Greenpeace or other large bodies, and the reactions of the interviewed people to the Qs were quite worrying – their body language showed fear/unease in almost all cases, genuinely as if someone had just asked them a really difficult Q and one they were scared about answering. Watch it if you can, it was odd. I’m sure the film had an agenda and a degree of bias, everything does. But we also know that there’s plenty of bias from large corporations etc promoting things that are known to be harmful for as long as possible. Where’s the truth on that continuum?

    • “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.”

      Animals don’t eat fossil fuels so all of that CO2 comes from plants that took that CO2 from the atmosphere. Hence no overall increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. A net increase in methane though as I think livestock farting is a significant source!

      The impact comes from the fossil fuels required to produce the fertiliser, build/run irrigation, plough fields & harvest plant protein in large quantities so that livestock can produce small quantities of animal protein (meat, dairy, eggs & farmed fish).

      The other net addition to atmospheric CO2 is deforestation to produce large areas of crops to feed livestock.

      Hence if we ate the plant protein rather than the animals raised on plant protein our environmental impact (including deforestation) would be several times less.

    • the stats are garbage:

      “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.”

      let just take the last point on the list – I’m not vegan therefore according to the stats quoted, I kill 1 animal per day.

      As I don’t kill animals for pleasure, only for food, so therefore I eat 1 animal per day? As much as a like a good blue steak, I don’t think I could manage a whole cow in one day. I would even struggle with a whole chicken.