Where Are Our Precious Resources Going?
Calvin Pang (Beckman High School)
Having an omnivorous diet can negatively impact the environment because more precious resources such as fossil fuels and water are used in animal farming. The usage of these resources emit greenhouse gasses and could be harmful to our daily lives. Additionally, large amounts of land are required and excrement releases toxic gasses, further damaging the environment. As a result, many people are striking against the farming industry by not consuming animal products in an act of protest - and for good reasons.
A resource that could be heavily saved is water; nearly half of all the water in the United States goes to raising animals for food. It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, whereas only 25 gallons is required for one pound of wheat, almost 100 times less water. Hypothetically, if one were to skip showering for an entire month, eating a single hamburger would balance it out. Especially in areas of heavy drought such as California, this heavy consumption of water can be extremely harmful. On top of taking our water, they also pollute our waterways with excrement, pesticides, chemicals, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics. This contributes to dead zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reef, and health problems.
Raising animals needs an almost unimaginable amount of land. The total amount of land used for animal farming in the world is a staggering 30% of the Earth’s land mass. In fact, so much land is being used that half of the U.S.’ land is used for animal farming. It also leads to large amounts of deforestation, bulldozing around 403,200 square feet of land, or 7 football fields’ worth of land, every minute.
Lastly, our clean air, which was already dwindling due to car emissions, is also being polluted by the toxic gasses that are emitted from animal excrement. Roughly 80% of ammonia emissions in the U.S. is from animal farming. When the cesspools holding urine and feces get full, factories get around the water pollution limit by spraying liquid manure, which can get carried by the wind and pose a threat to our health. These air pollutants can cause respiratory illness, lung inflammation, and increase vulnerability to respiratory diseases such as asthma. Also, burning through fossil fuels for machinery releases greenhouse gasses, being responsible for over 18% of the total release in the world (this is more than all the cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined). However, by replacing an omnivorous diet with a vegan one, the average person can prevent the emission of about 1.5 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is 50% greater than the amount saved from switching to an electric vehicle which saves you 1 tonne of CO2.
In conclusion, the best solution to combat these threats is veganism, which is already practiced by many in the world. If followed properly, the nutritional concerns of going vegan can be ignored, as well as saving our planet one step at a time.