Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
stephanie greene rMzg35fH6K0 unsplash?width=719&height=464&fit=crop&auto=webp
stephanie greene rMzg35fH6K0 unsplash?width=398&height=256&fit=crop&auto=webp
/ Unsplash

Be Green With Less Meat!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

What sounds good for dinner? A cheeseburger and fries, or maybe a nice big steak with some mash potatoes? Sounds mouthwatering, but what most people don’t know is that eating a lot of meat has many negative effects to our environment.

The common misconceptions that most people have is that our meat all comes from small farms where the livestock run free and live a happy life before they end up on our hamburgers. However, the reality is that most of the meat in the United States comes from corporate-owned factory farms where many of the negative effects to our environment take place. The livestock, of course, live in crowded conditions in these factory farms due to the U.S. high demand on meat. This leaves a lot of the animals prone to stress and illness. To combat this, high amounts of antibiotics are used on the animals in order to keep them healthy and growing. According to the World Watch Institute, animals are fed eight times more antibiotics in volume, significantly more than humans consume.  These large amounts of antibiotics in the meat cause health risks to humans who consume them. But this information is not new to most people.

What does come as a shock is how much damage it causes to the environment. According to Greenamerica.org, a study from the University of Chicago said stated that by looking at meat’s entire life cycle, each meat eater is responsible for 1.5 more tons of greenhouse gases per year than a vegan per year. How is this possible? Since the corporate farms have large amounts of livestock that means there are large amounts of manure that causes 65 percent of nitrous oxide emission. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that stays in the air longer than CO2. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, livestock is also responsible for 37 percent of the methane emissions in the environment that is twenty-three times more warming than CO2.

Not only does livestock contribute to greenhouse gases, but it also pollutes our water. The amount of chemicals, manure, dirt, and bacteria that is washed off the farm grounds seeps into the groundwater which makes it contaminated. These run-off wastes contain high levels of nitrate that can cause birth defects to any expecting mother who consumes the contaminated water. The livestock also uses large amounts of water pose a huge problem in times of water shortage. According to Peta.org it takes over 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of meat.

So the next time you are thinking of what you want to eat for dinner, maybe take out the steak and hamburger option. You don’t have to become a vegetarian and give up meat for good in order to go Green this week, but you can decrease the amount of meat in your diet. It not only benefits your health, but also the environment. It’s definitely a win-win scenario!


Resources: http://www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/lessmeat.cfm




Photo Credit: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/06/143195033/chicken-vs-kale-vt-artist-fights-chick-fil-a-suit