Large-scale animal agribusiness causes widespread suffering, but the consequences don’t end there. Here are even more reasons to reduce or eliminate animal products from our diets:
Greenhouse gas explosion
Many aspects of the meat, egg and dairy industries—not just the raising of animals, but feed crop production, deforestation, energy use and transportation of animals and animal products—play a prominent role in climate change and may be responsible for 18 percent of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions.
Animals confined in U.S. factory farms produce three times more waste than the entire U.S. population. This manure can contaminate water supplies and emit harmful gases such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and methane.
Down the drain
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, water quality concerns are most pronounced in areas of intensive crop cultivation and concentrated farm animal production facilities. Animal agribusiness also consumes enormous amounts of water: A pound of processed animal protein requires up to 26 times more water to produce than a pound of soy protein.
Public health perils
Farm animal waste has caused outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens that contaminate food and drinking water. Studies have also found that people who live near factory farms disproportionately suffer from excessive coughing, diarrhea, burning eyes, headaches, nausea and respiratory problems.
To keep animals alive in overcrowded, unsanitary and stressful living conditions, factory farms use massive amounts of antibiotics—many of the same drugs used in human and veterinary medicine. Antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be found in the air, groundwater and soil around farms and may contaminate meat, eggs and dairy products.