As omnivorous beings, humans consume both plants and meat in their diet. A little bit of both are necessary for our diet to provide us with the right nutrients, unless special food is eaten to substitute meats. For this reason, as a world we mass produce meat so that it can be consumed by the 7 billion people that live on this planet. Meat is a natural product, but could our efficient unnatural methods be something to worry about?
Overall, on a yearly basis humans produce 586 million tons of milk, 59 million tons of cattle, 11 million tons of goats and sheep, 91 million tons of pork, and 124 million tons of poultry. This comes out to about 285 million tons of meat that is being produced and spread around the world, and an average person should be getting 80 pounds of meat in their diet from this each year. However, we know that not to be the case. Americans are at the top of the charts with meat consumption, eating 270 pounds of meat in a year compared to the lowest consumers, the Bangladeshis who only eat four pounds in the same year.
It is much easier to feed people with fruits and vegetables instead of meat, which is actually one of Peta's biggest points they make when they argue for people to switch to a vegetarian diet. Animals have to eat several times the amount of food as they produce. Take some of these conversion figures into mind.
A cow that produces beef, America's most commonly consumed form of meat, needs to eat a total of 16 pounds of vegetation just to produce one pound of flesh. It would also take 2,500 gallons of water to produce that same pound of meat, whereas if you look at a pound of wheat you only need to offer 25 gallons of water to get the same result.
It's not just vegetation and water that are used on animals, as fossil fuels play a big role in the production of meat as well. In fact, one-third of all of the world's fossil fuels that are used each year go directly into the meat production industry. Just to produce a single hamburger, it's estimated that the same amount of fossil fuel could drive a car for 20 miles.
You may be surprised at just how much land is used to raise animals. Farm animals require a lot more land than crops do, even in some of the roughest conditions that you often see harsh and graphic videos of. In the United States, an estimated 87 percent of our agriculture land is used just to livestock. If you want a better view of just how much land overall that is, that's 45 percent of the total land owned by the United States. Large forests have been cleared just for the raising of these animals, including over 240 million acres that have been recorded. Another environmental factor that is placed into this equation is soil erosion, which livestock account for 80 percent of.
America is actually one of the most efficient livestock raising countries in the world, and they use a large portion of their land and resources to do it. The only viable way for the world to be able to continue this amount of meat consumption while the population grows and the climate changes is to follow America's footsteps. However, this comes at a price of animal cruelty, deforestation, chemicals in food, large amounts of waste, and a large consumption of fuel and resources.