The proportion of land used for livestock farming. This data comes from the movie Cowspiracy which deals with the impact of meat production on the environment (source: Cowspiracy). Why is meat production the main cause of destruction of natural areas? What are the consequences for our Planet? How can we change this frantic trend?
Why does livestock farming intensify the destruction of natural areas?
About 10,000 years ago, we got aware that breeding animals in order to eat them was way easier that hunting them. From that moment, we have created large infrastructures in order to farm animals. First, there are grazing areas in which biodiversity is quite low due to the fact that there is no tree, almost no bush and the land is continuously trampled on by our animals. Then, we got aware that it was more efficient to directly feed our animals instead of letting them graze freely. So, we started dedicating a growing part of our harvest to feed the livestock. Thus, more livestock entails more cultivated fields, most of which are single-crop farming and thus with a very poor biodiversity. Finally, the quantity of livestock waste is such that many rivers and deltas in the United States have lost a big part of their biodiversity because of the toxicity of the water due to livestock waste.
A world of livestock for livestock
The first consequence is that human beings and the animals we breed in order to eat them, represent 98% of the zoomass today (source: Cowspiracy). The zoomass means the total weight of all animals on Earth. Hence, wild animals now just represent a tiny share of all animals on the Blue Planet.
Another consequence is that the space used by livestock and the livestock-related systems cover 45% of emerged areas (source: ILRI). At the time when the world’s population is growing fast (we will be not less than 10 billion people on earth by 2050 and just as a reminder 2050 is as close to today as 1990 is close to today), the area of emerged land that has not been stamped on by human beings decreases more and more. This is not going to get any better as the sea level rising will reduce the available emerged area. We can thus say that we dedicate half of the space available on Earth for meat consumption (grazing areas, fields to feed livestock and meat-related farms). All this area is not available for natural areas (forests, savannas, swamps, etc), fields to directly feed humans and cities.
The third consequence is that we pay a lot of attention to our dear animals that will finish in our plates, an attention we do not pay to other human beings. Our society now values more a cow that will feed a rich European person than a malnourished person in a poor country. Indeed, 82% of malnourished children in the world, live in a country in which food is given to livestock that will be exported to a richer country (source: Comfortably Unaware). Another example that shows that we take more care of our livestock than we take care of our neighbors, is that in the United States, in 2010, 80% of all antibiotics were destined to cure and dope livestock (source: Livable Future). The list of harmful consequences could go on and on. For this, we invite you to watch the excellent documentary Cowspiracy.
How to reduce the negative impact of our meat consumption on our ecosystems?
The first solution is of course to stop eating meat and fish (vegetarianism) and all animal products like dairy products (veganism). The effect is instantaneous, a vegan lifestyle requires 18 times less space than a meat-eating lifestyle because of the necessary grazing areas and fields to feed the livestock. This radical solution attracts more and more but is still an exception in the world. Thus, you might be a vegan or a vegetarian person and you would like to do even more or you do not achieve quitting meat.
In both cases, you can foster ecosystem restoration or preservation by funding projects on the NooS platform that aim at healing or protecting natural areas. We selected for you the projects that will maximize your positive impact on the environment.