The Harmful Effects of the Meat and Dairy Industries

Siona Manocha, Staff Writer


26% of the Earth’s total landmass, or 83% of all farmland, is used for fodder crops — the crops used to feed the 23 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cattle, and 1 billion pigs and sheep that make up the global meat and dairy industry. The water needed to produce fodder crops accounts for 27% of global freshwater consumption. If instead, these resources were used for human consumption, an additional 3.5 billion people would be nourished. Furthermore, the meat and dairy industry produces 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans, the same amount as all trucks, planes, ships, and cars combined. A few decades ago, meat was seen as a luxury. However, today one can buy a burger for a dollar. The sharp and sudden rise in global meat consumption is destroying our planet. It has also caused another complication — a complication less talked about: the shocking mistreatment of animals in the food industry. As the demand for meat has increased and the price decreased, the production of meat has been forced to keep up. The result? The rise of factory farms — a system designed to maximize production, while minimizing costs. These large industrial systems house thousands of animals and have little consideration for things like quality of life. Globally 2 million animals are killed each day and 74 billion each year, meaning that every 1.5 years, we kill around 111 billion animals. For perspective, the estimated amount of all humans to have ever lived is 108 billion. The following essay sheds light on both the unsustainability of our current meat consumption and the abuse that occurs behind the closed doors of the slaughterhouse. When the atrocities are hidden from public view, we can pretend it doesn’t exist. However, for now, the easiest option is opting out of eating meat more often. One doesn’t have to entirely stop eating meat to make a difference but simply reduce consumption of it. Through this, we can help both our planet and the billions of chickens, pigs, and cattle that call it home.

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