10 Environmental Reasons to Eat Vegan Wednesday, January 10, 2007 Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Fortunately there is something you can do — switch to a plant-based diet, or at the very least reduce your meat and dairy consumption. 1. Factory farms produce massive amounts of dust and other contamination that pollutes our air. A study in Texas found that animal feedlots in the state produce more than 14 million pounds of particulate dust every year and that the dust “contains biologically active organisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungi from the feces and the feed.” 2. According to the nonprofit group Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms. 3. According to a 2006 UN report, the livestock sector causes more greenhouse gases worldwide than the entire transportation sector. 4. Nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide. According to the U.N., the meat, egg, and dairy industries account for a staggering 65 percent of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions. 5. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. 6. It takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat. One average meat eater could consume that pound of meat during a meal, while 16 people could have been fed on the grain it takes to produce that pound of meat. 7. The meat industry causes more water pollution in the US than all other industries combined because the animals raised for food produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population–86,000 lbs per second. A typical pig factory farm generates a quantity of raw waste equal to that of a city of 12,000 people. 8. Every 2 seconds, a child starves to death somewhere in the world. Countries such as Ethiopia and some Central American countries use their farmland to supply the United States with cheap burgers instead of growing healthful grain foods for their own starving people. 9. The livestock population of the US consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more than 5 times its human population. 90% of all corn and 80% of all grains and beans grown in the US are used to feed livestock animals. 10. 75 percent of U.S. topsoil has been lost to date, 85 percent of that loss is due to livestock rearing.