1. Every year in India we feed our livestock enough food to feed 2.5 crore people. Every year , thousands of people die of starvation and malnutrition. How many women are undernourished because the whole family cannot be fed ? If we reduced meat consumption by 20% it would free 6 crore tons of grain - enough to feed 30 crore people .
2. Grain production in Europe & the USA has increased massively but 70% of all grain is fed to animals. It could have been sent to poor countries.
3. Cattle and goat grazing in our forests has brought them down from 25 % to 7%. Not only have most wild animals and birds been decimated , but the weather patterns and rain in the country is now erratic – either floods or drought. Lakhs of people have been displaced and pauperised by the change in weather and the single reason is the removal of forest cover by animals reared for meat.
4. Rearing cattle for slaughter to export has caused South America to cut down its rainforests (38% so far), affecting weather patterns and oxygen levels all over the world. We , in India, suffer because someone in Europe is eating an Argentinian beefsteak. If they continue to clear forests to raise cattle at the present rate, in 50 years the lungs of the planet will be gone.
5. As rainfall decreases, lakhs of people are displaced from their traditional lands , and come to cities .When people are displaced , this puts huge pressure on the government for emergency relief and long term rehabilitation. The cities swell with slums.
6. The government has to spend huge amounts on artificial methods of generating water like dams which again displace millions of people.
7. In a country that needs all its food, states like Madhya Pradesh use most of their land to grow soyabean which is exported to Europe to feed the animals grown for meat. One seventh of each kilo of meat is grown with Indian soyabean. The UK imports £46,000,000 worth of grain from third world countries to feed their livestock . 80% of cultivated land in the UK and Western Europe is used to grow food for animals . So the burden of growing grain is passed on to other countries which then grow cash crops rather than food for their own people.
8. When the grass is pulled out by animals during grazing, the topsoil slides away or is carried by the wind and water leading to permanent desertification .Pressure on land due to meat farming leads to soil erosion of 2 billion tonnes in India.Due to overgrazing 22 crore people live on land threatened by desertification or so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence & face imminent starvation . An inch of topsoil takes 200-1000 years to develop - yet in India we have lost around 1/3 of prime topsoil in 50 years (around 7 inches) due to animal farming . The Institute of Nutrition, Education and Research writes, "The pricetag on the steak does not include irreplaceable topsoil; yet future generations will pay dearly."
9. Desertification causes dust storms.In India mountain ranges like the Aravallis have been desertified by goat grazing. As a result , Delhi ‘s citizens suffer from breathing ailments because of the dust blowing in from the denuded hills.
10. The Government of India borrows thousands of dollars every year in order to regreen the area desertified by goats. The programme is called wasteland development. Not a single rupee is every successfully used in regreening while you and I service the loan.
11. Since 1947 in India we have lost 95% of flower meadows, 70% of old woodlands, 50% of wet lands , 40 % of hillsides all due to animal farming. Livestock grazing is one of the primary reason for the elimination or endangerment of biodiverse plant species in the nation.
12. Methane is one of the four greenhouse gasses that contributes to global warming. The 1.3 billion cattle in the world produce one fifth of all the methane emitted into the atmosphere, 60,000,000 tons. Burning of forests, grasslands & agricultural waste associated with animal farming releases 50-100,000,000 tons of methane per year .Add to that , billions of sheep,pigs and chickens.With global warming, the water of the oceans is rising and India is already losing the land on its shores , forcing people into the interiors and putting more pressure on the land. The generation of heat by methane puts more pressure on the governments to create more energy for cooling .
13. CFCs are released into the air from refrigeration units used to store decomposing meat, milk & butter - CFCs destroy the ozone layer making it even more difficult to breathe and changing weather patterns . Direct sunlight now is a carcinogenic threat to the skin.
14. Carbon dioxide is released by burning oil & petrol in trucks, ships, abattoirs, dairies, factories etc. associated with meat & dairy production.
15. Ammonia from animal urine pollutes the rivers. Animals produced for meat produce 200,000,000 tonnes of liquid excrement every year most of which flows into the rivers, the majority of which ends up in our rivers along with the bloody waste water from abattoirs . Since farm animals today spend much or all of their lives in factory sheds or feedlots, their waste no longer serves to fertilize fields a little at a time. A large poultry will produce 50 tons of wet manure a day. To responsibly store, use, or degrade this amount of animal waste is not possible.. Animal breeding poultries , dairies and pigfarms leak contaminants such as nitrate into the ground water. No method of retrieval exists that cleans contaminants from groundwater. Only nature is able to purify things again; and that could take several generations. Becoming a vegetarian does more to clean up our nation's water than any other single action.
16. “Dead zones." in the oceans are now the subject of extreme international concern. Thousands of kilometres that have no life in them as they are devoid of oxygen. The only cause has been found to be the nitrates and polluted nutrients falling into the ocean from meat animal growing.
17. Meat & dairy farming uses 70 litres of water per day per animal . The dairy industry uses 600 litres of water to make I litre of milk..Depletion of groundwater reserves to grow crops for animals , to feed them & to supply abattoirs lead to great water shortages . One abbatoir in water-starved Hyderabad uses 16 million litres of water daily to wash its blood.
18. 18% of all agricultural land in the world is irrigated and as global warming increases it will need all the water we can get just to keep that going . It takes 125 litres of water to produce 1 kilo of wheat & 2800 litres to produce 1 kilo of meat ..
19. To produce 1calorie of energy from meat takes 60 calories of oil, whereas growing grains & legumes produces 20 calories for each calorie of fuel used ( thats 1200 times more efficient) .Meat & dairy farming uses billions of gallons of oil to extract ground water, run tractors, move animal feed & animals, run slaughterhouses, power refrigeration units and power sewage plants to clean up some of the pollution produced.1 kilo of meat takes approx. 13 litres of petrol to produce.
20. Feeding the average meat-eater requires 3-1/4 acres of land per year. Feeding a person who eats no food derived from animals requires only 1/6 acre per year. Marginal growth in animal protein consumption leads to huge increases in the need for feed grains. 1 acre yields 165 lbs of beef or 20,000 lbs of potatoes . 200 vegetarians can live off the land required by one meat eater .It takes 11 kg of high protein grain to make one kilo of meat so when one meateater has a daily meal , at one sitting they eat between 11 – 12 kilos of grain and green forest and pasture and they eat vegetables and grain along with it. How many vegetarians could have eaten the same amount ? World shortages are inevitable as both populations and meat consumption rise together--an unsustainable combination. According to Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute, the world "may have crossed a threshold where even the best efforts of governments to build stocks may not be enough."
21. Turning vegetarian means enough to eat for all, cheaper food, more forests ,stable rain, higher levels of groundwater, clean rivers ,less oil import bills so more money to spend. And that’s only the beginning.
- Maneka Gandhi