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Meat and the Environment

Original post made by gordon on Apr 13, 2007

With all the focus recently on reducing carbon emissions as they relate to transportation, it would be easy to overlook a more serious source of the planet-warming gases.

The meat production industry is so bad for the planet, I find it a little strange we don't hear more about it.

70 percent of all the grains and cereals we grow go to feed livestock, not hungry people. Half our available water supply and 80 percent of the country's agricultural land are used to raise animals for food.

In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.

The list goes on.

By all means, do drive a Prius and change out your incandescent bulbs, coat your roof with photovoltaic cells, but neither would make as big of a difference as eating a vegetable-based diet.

Web Link

Comments (17)

Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 13, 2007 at 11:01 am

Your link is to a PETA site. Not what I would call an unbias source of information.

Posted by Eat Meat, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 13, 2007 at 11:07 am

Send this to our mayor immediately--she must now pass a law banning the possession and consumption of meat within Palo Alto.

Posted by gordon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2007 at 11:24 am

It takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons.

A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.

You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.

Posted by gordon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2007 at 11:28 am

From the EPA's web site:

Web Link

and. . .

Web Link

Posted by RS, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 13, 2007 at 11:58 am

Using the EPA sources you gave, agriculture is noise and trending downward compared to Electric Generation #1 and Transportation #2 which are trending upwards.

Posted by anon., a resident of Ventura
on Apr 13, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Gordon, thankyou for the information. Don't be suprised by all the negative remarks that you will inevitably receive. Perhaps if some of the people on this forum would do some investigating before attacking you, the responses would be a little less hostile (maybe a flight over the amazon, and all the clear cutting that goes on their everyday). Thanks for reminding me that the way in which this society feeds itself in unsustainable. Please don't be deterred by all the negativity that will inevitably come your way. Changing diets is not that easy, and most people find it much easier to attack the messenger.

Posted by Compromise, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 13, 2007 at 12:46 pm

The culprit is the production of methane while raising cattle that is a green house gas.


One thing has been really forgotten in the equation is that when producing grain for the cattle feed, the very act of growing grain may absorb a good amount of CO2. This action may not be a net zero for green house gases, but is a does mitigate some.

Well one can argue that we may consume the grain directly.

Posted by gordon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2007 at 2:38 pm

It's good to see people talking about this. I think the important thing to realize is that everyone in this city could make a difference by at least cutting back on consuming animal products.

Not everyone can afford some of the other environment-friendly options -- hyrid car, photovoltaic cells -- but by simply excluding something expensive from one's diet, one can make a bigger difference.

It's a choice of exclusion, and it doesn't cost any money. It will, in fact, save money with no upfront investment.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2007 at 5:52 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by joyce, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2007 at 5:02 am

I guess next the Christian Science Monitor will be accused of bias:
Web Link

Amazing responses in here, once again proving that Palo Alto has become more "it's all about me" than about responsible behavior, as the Monster house builder crowd has increased.

Posted by Compromise, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 14, 2007 at 6:05 am

The problem is us.

We simply have too many humans. All activity like transportation, cattle exist to serve the ever growing human population.
We need to figure out how to control human growth. Either we do it in a sane fashion or nature will do it to us.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2007 at 7:21 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 14, 2007 at 12:48 pm

I am disapointed that my argument against Malthus was erased but a plea for genocide was left in.

Posted by gordon, a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 16, 2007 at 9:47 am

Maybe it's just that humans need to be aware their actions have consequences. Whatever happened to making an inconvenient personal choice to serve a greater good?

In this case, that "inconvenient" personal choice will help reduce demand for the No. 1 most-polluting industry on the planet. And it saves the individual the cost of purchasing meat products, which are more expensive than non-animal-based products. Healthier too!

Or you could plunk down way too much money for a Prius, and have a less significant impact on the environment.

Posted by Dick, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2007 at 7:11 pm


Have you considered the ultimate sacrifice that you could make?

Posted by anon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 17, 2007 at 11:53 pm

Bravo! Agree 100%. Too bad most people let their tastebuds get in the way of what is right

Posted by gordon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2007 at 11:26 am

Dick, is choosing to not purchase and eat animal products the "ultimate sacrifice" for you?

It must be too much to ask people to change their diets.

In Palo Alto it's much more convenient to solve climate change by spending money. . . which really isn't that much of a sacrifice.

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