Industrialized agriculture is responsible for the widespread destruction of natural resources, and pollution of air, soil and water.
Beef production is the worst, with pork and poultry not far behind. The land and water used to grow food for one steer, to feed one person for a year, could supply all the dietary needs for many times the number of people annually, for years and years.
75% of more of the Amazon rain forests have been burned or cut down to feed cattle, disturbing the global eco-system in profound ways.
Meat consumption contributes to heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, etc. There are dangerous bacteria and illnesses now spread through meat production – ecoli, botulism, and mad cow disease for example.
Animals today raised on factory farms have had their genes manipulated and pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals to encourage high productivity.
The broiler chicken industry produces 6 billion chickens a year for slaughter. Broiler chickens are selectively bred and genetically altered to produce bigger thighs and breasts, the parts in most demand. This breeding creates birds so heavy that their bones cannot support their weight, making it difficult for them to stand. The birds are bred to grow at an astonishing rate, reaching their market weight of 3 1/2 pounds in seven weeks.
There are about 250 million hens in U.S. egg factories that supply 95% of the eggs in this country. In these facilities the birds are held in battery cages that are very small with slanted wire floors which cause severe discomfort and foot deformation. Between five and eight birds are crammed in cages only 14 square inches in size. The layer hens are subjected to constant light to encourage greater egg production.
Dairy cows are bred today for high milk production. For cows who are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, their already high rate of milk production is doubled. Half of the cows in the national dairy herd are raised in intensive confinement. Dairy cows produce milk for about 10 months after giving birth so they are impregnated continuously to keep up the milk flow.
The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste – or five tons for every US citizen.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.
Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay.
5000 deaths and 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur annually.
Antibiotics in farm animals leave behind drug-resistant microbes in meat and milk. With every burger and shake consumed, super-microbes settle in the stomach where they transfer drug resistance to bacteria in the body, making one more vulnerable to previously-treatable conditions.
The average American consumes nearly twice his or her weight in meat annually.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”–Albert Einstein