The Meat Industry

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The Meat Industry

The cattle industry produces vast amounts of strain in the environment. It is energy inefficient, pollutes water, occupies many acres of land, and deteriorates the health of the people who abuse its consumption. The government subsidizes this industry. Therefore, the price paid for meat doesn’t reflect the environmental hazards involved in the process. In order to protect our health and the health of the environment we should pay close attention to our food choices and make sure we don’t support industries that degrade it.

The energy return ratio (as food energy per fossil energy expended) of the most energy efficient factory farming of meat is 34.5%, while that of the least energy efficient plant food is 328%. Fossil energy is utilized from before a cow is raised until it is eaten. This account for the necessary energy to clear land from its original vegetation, to grow cow feed, to operate slaughterhouses and transportation. Forty pounds of soybeans are produced by the same amount of fossil fuels required to produce one pound of meat. All these factors indicate the inverse relationship between meat production and fossil energy savings.

The meat industry consumes over half of all water used for all purposes in the United States. Most of this water is used to irrigate cattle feedlots. Water utilized to produce 1 pound of meat amounts to 2,500 gallons. In comparison, the water utilized to produce 1 pound of wheat amounts to 25 gallons. In Texas, a quarter of the groundwater has already been used to grow crops for the expanding cattle feedlots and wells are drying up across the northern part of the state. Also, cattle contribute to water pollution. Cows are routinely washed and the runoff containing manu...

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...en to be energy inefficient because of the quantity of fossil fuels required for its production. It causes deforestation, topsoil erosion, extensive water usage and pollution, along with numerous health hazards. Many of our tax dollars are directed towards this cause through government subsidies. Among the possible solutions to this problem would be to implement laws to halt deforestation for cattle production, to stop subsidizing water for cow feed, to control cattle population and to increase standards for manure management. Also to, implement mandatory education measures in hospitals for patients suffering from cardiovascular disorders and other health problems related to meat consumption. At the personal level, it is necessary for us to take responsibility for our actions, by paying attention to every bite and being aware of how our decisions affect the planet.

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