we are all connected
~almost 1/2 (about 45%) of the land in the continental u.s. is used for meat production. why so much land? it's needed to grow grain that's fed to livestock.
~almost 40% of the world's grain supply is fed to livestock. in the u.s., 70% of the grain consumed is fed to animals.
~it takes at least: 7lbs. of grain to make one lb. of pork; 5lbs. of grain to make one lb. of beef; and 3lbs. of grain to make one lb. of chicken (but these numbers are usually much higher).
~about 1/2 of the water consumed in the u.s. goes to livestock production. in the western states, livestock production accounts for more than 70% of water consumed.
~it takes about 100 gallons of irrigation water every day to feed one person with meat, milk, and eggs.
~in california, it takes 23 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of tomoatoes, 25 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of wheat; 33 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of carrots; and more than 5200 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of beef.
~on average around the country, it takes about 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of feedlot beef.
~much feedlot beef relies on water pumped from the gigantic ogallala aquifier in the southern plains. some parts of this water source have already been severly depleted.
~the fewer animal products you eat, the more energy you conserve. a vegan diet is the most energy-efficient: it takes more than 3 times as much fossil-fuel energy to feed a meat eater than it does to feed a person who eats no meat or dairy products.
~it takes the equivalent of about 50 gallons of gasoline to produce a year's worth of red meat and poultry for the typical american.
~livestock farms produce millions of tons of animal wastes. when these wastes reach rivers and lakes, they cause algae to grow and choke out other plants and animals.
~nitrates from manure pollute ground-water. 1/5 of wells in livestock states such as iowa, kansas, and nebraska have high nitrate levels. nitrates are linked to cancer and nervous-system problems.
~gases from manure escape into the air and contribute to acid rain.
~for every pound of feedlot beef produced, 35 pounds of topsoil erode away.
~it takes 200 to 1000 years for nature to form one inch of topsoil.
~meat production causes desertification: cattle overgraze grasses and plants until those grasses and plants die and weeds take over. weeds don't anchor the soil very well, so the soil erodes away as the area is trampled by hooves, blown by wind, or washed by rain.
~estimates say that about 70% of the world's dry rangeland is at least moderately desertified- including land in the western u.s.
~more than 1/3 of the forests of central america have been cleared since 1960, mostly to raise cattle for beef. in latin america, forests are cleared primarily for pasture. nepal has lost an estimated 1/2 its himilayan forests in the past 20 years, partly for food for livestock.
~as forests are lost, so are species. tropical forests cover just 7% of the earth but contain perhaps half of its species. if the amazon basin continues to be deforested at the same rate as it was in the 1980s, 15% of all plant species may be lost by the year 2000.
~clearing forests increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. carbon dioxide is called a greenhouse gas because it traps the heat of the sun and contributes to global warming. (cows and manure give off methane, another greenhouse gas.)
~cattle grazing threatens forests in the u.s., too. about 1/2 of the forest land here is used for livestock grazing. although trees are left standing, the cattle destroy grasses and small plants, affecting the entire forest ecosystem.
~every year in this country, more than 6 billion animals are slaughtered for food.
~about 90% of the animals that people eat in the u.s. are raised in confinement. this means that animals are crowded into pens and cages that are too small for them. many animals spend their entire lives indoors in dark, filthy buildings.
~factory farms are just that- factories. farm chores that the farmer once performed, such as feeding and cleaning, are now done by machines. in an egg-laying factory, for instance, a conveyor belt carries food to birds in their cages, and another conveyor belt carries away eggs.
~factory farmers try to make animals grow faster by feeding them things like antibiotics and hormones.
~animals endure long trips from the factory farm to the slaughterhouse, riding on crowded trucks. the trip often leaves them sick, injured, hungry, or disoriented.
~a single egg-laying factory may contain hundreds of thousands of birds. birds who lay eggs are crammed into small cages with so many other birds that they barely have room to turn around- about 1/2 square foot of space per bird. birds produced just for meat aren't caged, but are just as crowded on the floors of buildings. to prevent crowded, stressed birds from pecking each other to death, farmers debeak them, using a hot blade.
~in the egg industry, male chicks are considered useless because they won't lay eggs when they grow up. soon after hatching, they are gassed, tossed in plastic bags to suffocate, or ground alive for animal feed.
~"free-range" eggs don't necessarily come from birds living in the great outdoors; most "free-range" birds are kept indoors, just not caged. free-range chickens, like other egg-layers, are also eventually slaughtered.
~turkeys are raised under conditions similar to those for chickens.
~pig farmers raise mainly female pigs, because sows produce "crops" of piglets. these sows go from one pregnancy to the next without a break, and farmers sometimes inject pigs with hormones to make them produce more piglets quickly and inexpensively. a sow gives birth and feeds her piglets in a very small stall, with no room to walk or turn around.
~pigs are usually calm and friendly, but confined pigs will bite each other's tails. farmers prevent this by removing the tails and some of the teeth of newborn pigs. they also notch the pigs' ears to tell them apart. pigs develop foot, ankle, and leg problems from standing on concrete floors, and many suffer lung damage and pneumonia from ammonia and other toxic gasses that accumulate in buildings.
~cattle generally spend more time outdoors than other factory-farmed animals, but they spend their last months confined on a feedlot, getting fattened up for market. feedlot cattle are branded, castrated, and de-horned without anesthetics.
~cows are moved from pasture to feedlot and then to slaughterhouse on crowded metal trucks. sometimes a cow falls or becomes injured and can't move with the other animals. these cows are called "downers" and are somtimes prodded, dragged with chains, or simply abandonded, with no food or water, to die. there's no government policy ensuring that injured animals are treated compassionately. most downed animals are processed for humans to eat, even though eating sick animals can cause health problems in people.
~in order for dairy cows to produce milk continuously, they must give birth every year. a mother's calf is taken away from her when it is just a few days old, so that it doesn't drink her milk.
~dairy cows are forced to produce 10 times the amount of milk they would naturally produce and are milked by machine 2 or 3 times a day. all of these milkings leave most dairy cows with swollen, diseased udders. a new substance called bovine growth hormone (bgh) is now used to boast milk production even more (despite the fact that there's already a surplus of milk in this country). when a dairy cow's milk-producing career is over, she is slaughtered for meat.
~veal calves come from dairy cows. every year, one million newly born calves are taken from their mothers soon after birth.
~veal calves are kept in narrow wooden crates and chained at the neck, allowing them no space to turn around or lie down comfortably. they aren't allowed to get excercise, because exercise would cause their muscles to develop and toughen.
~calves are fed and iron-deficient "milk-replacer" gruel to keep their flesh white. it also makes the calves anemic. some become so anemic that they die before getting to slaughter.
most of this information can be found in "a teen's guide to going vegetarian," by judy krizmanic. really informative, and full of good facts and interesting stuff. i highly recommend it.
here's a poem:
This God of ours, the Great Geometer,
Does something for us here, where He hath put
(if you want to put it that way) things in shape,
Compressing the little lambs into orderly cubes,
Making the roast a decent cylinder,
Fairing the tin ellipsoid of a ham,
Getting the luncheon meat anonymous
In squares and oblongs with all the edges bevelled
Or rounded (streamlined, maybe, for greater speed).
Praise Him, He hath conferred aesthetic distance
Upon our appetites, and on the bloody
Mess of our birthright, our unseemly need.
Imposed significant form. Through Him the brutes
Enter the pure Euclidean kingdom of number,
Free of their bulging and blood-swollen lives
They come to us holy, in cellophane
Tansparencies, in the mystical body.
That we may look unflinchingly on death
As the greatest good, like a philosopher should.