Meat Consumption Is The Real Environmental Threat


It was wrong! I know it was. I was walking down the street and after I finished smoking my cigarette I threw the cigarette butt on the ground. It’s a nasty habit that I’m trying to quit. Both of them, smoking and throwing my cigarette butts on the ground. But this man who saw me throw my cigarette butt on the ground stopped me and said “Excuse me but what you did was wrong, do you have any idea how much your cigarette butt pollutes” I told him “ Yes I know, it pollutes around 5 thousand litters of water. I know it’s wrong, but I do more right than wrong by being a vegetarian. Did you know that you pollute more than I do by eating meat?” I shouldn’t have defended my action, but I had another message to send across.

I know I shouldn’t have thrown my cigarette butt on the ground, it’s one of those things that I keep doing without giving it much thought, but that I’m working on. What infuriated me wasn’t that he made a remark on my bad behavior but the discrimination towards bad behavior. It’s alright to tell a smoker how much they’re destroying the planet, their health and the health of others with their second-hand smoke and cigarette butts, but it’s not cool to tell a meat eater how much their destroying the environment, their health and the health of others with their meat-eating habits.

Cigarettes have been severely banned from public places because they’re a danger to people’s health. Nevertheless meat is openly sold everywhere even though it’s destroying the planet where we live and if the planet dies, we die.

People are so focused into the tip of the iceberg that they’re forgetting all the environmental damage that is hiding beneath. Of course it is important to also take care of the small things, like cigarette butts, especially on the beach where animals can eat them. But people turn away from the bigger issues of what is actually killing our planet and billions of living beings: It’s not cigarette butts, it’s meat consumption.

Lets go to the facts so that I can prove my point (if you wish to read the sources just click on the hyperlink embedded on each fact).

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all of the combined exhaust pollutants from all transportation.
  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
  • About 30% of the word’s total ice-free surface — is used not to raise grains, fruits and vegetables that are directly fed to human beings, but to support the chickens, pigs and cattle that we eventually eat. Livestock production — which includes meat, milk and eggs —uses one-third of the world’s fresh water. There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock.
  • Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonne CO2 limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
  • 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
  • 130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US.
  • For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as ‘by-kill’.
  • Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
  • The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.

And these hard facts are just the tip of the iceberg of the damage animal agriculture and fishing has on our environment. It’s also important to note that by destroying the planet in which we live, we are also slowly killing ourselves. We need to remember that we depend on this planet for our survival.

What is the difference between my cigarette butt and meat consumption?

The man who made a remark on my bad behavior could clearly see me polluting the ground with my cigarette butt. He couldn’t turn away from it and I’m glad he didn’t. With animal agriculture, you can´t see first hand the damage that it is doing, which is why it’s easy to turn away and just keep eating meat.

Many will probably finish reading this article and go out to lunch and enjoy a “nice” steak. They’ll forget, or try to forget about these facts so they can enjoy their meal, but if they see someone throwing their garbage on the ground they’ll feel uncomfortable as if the other person is doing something extremely wrong (which they are, don’t get me wrong). But it is meat eaters’ habits that are doing more damage to this planet. The difference is the impact is not clearly seen first hand, it’s only felt by global warming, in the polluted air we breath, in the rain-forest that is being chopped down, in the fishless oceans and in the world around us. The damage can be felt very subtly, which is why we disregard the impact that our eating habits have on the environment and on our health.

If garbage on the streets makes us feel uncomfortable, why don’t our eating habits?

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *