Many people love to eat meat. Most would order a double cheeseburger from Shake Shack without even thinking twice about how that meal got there. Unfortunately, although delicious, meat is produced by an industry that has disastrous effects on the earth and its inhabitants.
Based on estimates conducted by the World Resources Institute, animal agriculture is responsible for anywhere from 14 to 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. These very emissions go into our atmosphere and disallow for heat to escape, ultimately rewarming the Earth. Greenhouse gas emissions, however, are not the only cause of global warming by animal agriculture. A primary cause is deforestation, because in order to make room for livestock, forests must be razed. The result is human-induced carbon dioxide emissions in addition to those of greenhouse gases.
And although animal farming is a less dominating contributor than fossil fuels (which are responsible for around 60% of greenhouse gas emissions), its alternatives are still worth noting. It is a very easy concept to grasp: consuming produce is far more efficient than feeding produce to livestock. What’s more, the emissions caused by a ton of a vegetable or grain, such as broccoli or rice, respectively, are up to five times less than those caused by a ton of beef (It takes anywhere from 13 to 20 pounds of grain to fund a pound of beef).
Lastly, we can refer to ethics. If the 13-20 pounds of grain used to support a pound of beef were instead used for direct human consumption, then we are being far more efficient with our resources. There are nearly one billion starving humans on this planet, yet affluent nations decide that it is more important to allocate resources toward meat production than to support the starving men, women, and children in the world. The next time you have that double cheese burger from shake shack, just imagine how many potential meals were forgone for it.