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How Does Our Consumption of Animal Products Affect the Environment? Essay

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My starting point for this paper was the movie Food Inc. directed by Robert Kenner. Although the film’s main purpose was to expose how detrimental today’s food industry is to our health, at the same time I found myself wondering how the food industry and our diets affect the environment. The film mentions how the meat industry takes heavy tolls on the environment because of the land that must be devoted in order to raise livestock—both to grow the food for the animals to eat and to provide a place for the animals to reside. The film also mentions how there are only 4 or 5 major crops that are grown in America—including corn, wheat, and soybean, which are used a lot for animal feed—which decreases America’s biodiversity (Food). All of these things led me to pursue the question: how does our consumption of animal products affect the environment?
Before talking about how the production of animal products affects the environment, we should look into how much animal products Americans actually consume. An average American takes in 2,700 calories a day, which is one of the largest caloric intakes in the world (“What’s The”). 25% of these calories come from animal products, such as meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood (USDA). In fact, according to Figure 1.0, the average American eats around 200 pounds of meat a year. This includes 62 pounds of beef, 47 pounds of pork, 60 pounds of chicken, and 16 pounds of fish and shellfish. Additionally, Americans also eat around 630 pounds of dairy products a year, 181 of which are drinking milk and 31 of which are cheese (“What’s The”).
The first thing to consider when looking into the production of animal products is what the animals rely on: food. The production of animal feed includes the use of gr...


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...rains Energy, Water Supplies." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 6 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. .
"US Organic Food Market Increases." Organic Consumers Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013. .
USDA. U.S. Food Consumption As A % Of Calories. 2009. New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, United States. http://www.nyu.edu. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.
"What's Feeding Our Food?." Friends Of The Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. .
"What's The Average American Diet? | Ultimate Paleo Guide." The Ultimate Paleo Diet Guide | Ultimate Paleo Guide. N.p., 7 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. .


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