Factory farming now accounts for more than 99 percent of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the United States. Factory farms, also known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) or IFAP (Industrial Farm Animal Production) facilities, can house more than 125,000 animals under one roof and are designed to produce the highest possible output at the lowest possible cost. Animals on these “farms” never graze in the fields or see the sun. Factory farms and their associated industrial slaughterhouses produce “cheap” meat, eggs, and dairy, and other animal products, by externalizing their costs. However, the costs to the public from the ecological damage and health problems created by these farms are beyond measure: waste polluting the water supply, greenhouse gasses causing global climate change, the result of billions of animals raised and slaughtered for food; heart disease, cancer, obesity, the diseases of aging in the industrialized world, have all been linked to a meat/dairy based diet. For this reason, the true cost of meat or dairy is never reflected in the price consumers pay. Animal suffering is given no meaningful consideration, nor is the immense damage to the atmosphere and environment. A little-known fact is that factory farms produce more greenhouse gasses than all of the cars on the road IN THE WORLD.
Factory farming is not an efficient way of feeding people. Sometimes people will say, “but we have to eat, right?” While this is true, we must eat, we certainly do not have to eat a product that is produced so inefficiently. For example, say it takes ten pounds of grain and ten gallons of water to produce one pound of flesh. (The animals being raised have to eat too, don’t they?) This is not a cost-effective equation. If we stopped breeding the animals for food, and instead took the initial ten pounds of grain and ten gallons of water, and fed it directly to the people and used the water to water crops, the amount of water, land, and other natural resources that we would save and spare would be monumental. To stop producing and consuming this inordinate amount of meats and other animal products would have the most profound positive effect on the environment that we are capable of producing as a species.
If you really want to “save the environment”, the most single most powerful tool you can begin with is right in front of you — your plate. By making vegan choices, you are sparing the environment of the unending damage that factory farming causes.
For further information, please watch Cowspiracy, available on Netflix. Or, you can watch it here. This is a great documentary, co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, that is entertaining and educational all at once!
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