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Meet your Meat: How Meat Impacts your Environment

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Nowadays, concerns about the environment have surfaced more than ever. There seem to be so many colossal problems that sometimes it seems like we’re just destined for doomsday!

One small change that can make a huge environmental impact is limiting your intake of meat. In the United States today, Americans are eating twice the amount of meat than they were in 1960. That’s an average of a ½ pound of meat per person each day, which adds up to 180 pounds of meat per year! Did I already mention that this is per person?

As you can imagine, this not only affects our health (as I’ll be discussing in another article this week) but also our environment.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Meat and dairy production requires large amounts of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water; and generates greenhouse gases, toxic manure and other pollutants that contaminate our air and water.”

If we follow our meat from beginning to end, we can see what a huge carbon footprint it makes. Think about it.

First, you have to transport animals and materials to their proper destinations. Then, you have to feed the animals. Cows and pigs are huge, and require a lot of food to stay healthy and be made robust enough for eating.

According to the EWG, “it takes 149 million acres of cropland, 167 million pounds of pesticides, and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer to grow this much feed every year.”

These toxins contribute to global warming, and run off into streams, rivers and oceans, polluting our resources.

As us health-savvy individuals know: what goes in, must come out! Although manure makes for a nutritious fertilizer, the 500 million pounds of manure produced each year in US feedlots can leech antibiotics, metals, nitrogen, and phosphorus into our soil and water. The decomposition of this waste produces many pollutants, which add to the smog, dust and harmful gases and odors in the air.

So, we’ve housed the livestock, fed them, and let them do their business. Now time for the icky stuff.

Simply looking at the environmental impact, slaughterhouses are known to release tons of toxic substances into the environment.

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