Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

The documentary Cowspiracy is about the the assertion that livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions are greater than the transportation sector’s emissions. When it comes down to the earth warming, there is more to climate change than just fossil fuels. Livestock produce more greenhouse gases than cars, trucks, boats, and planes combined. Cows produce a substantial amount of methane gas from their digestive system. Methane gas from livestock is 86 times more destructive than carbon dioxide from vehicles. Livestock plays a major role in global warming, it is also the leading cause of resource consumption in environmental degradation that is destroying our planet today. Both co-producers Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn argue that our institutional and individual attention to selected environmental issues will not make a collective difference unless we also confront the realities of animal agriculture.
Animal agriculture’s environmental effects are so pervasive that apparent progress elsewhere cannot counter its destructive and growing impact. The film suggests that protecting expanded areas of the oceans will not protect oceans or ocean animals. This goes the same for growing food organically. If we start growing food organically, even on a commercial scale, this will still not protect the land from what has already been done to it. The same also goes for cutting down trees. Keeping lumber operations out of the Amazon will not save the rainforest. No matter what we do or how hard we try to come up with alternative ways to save our planet we have already put us in a deep enough hole that we may not be able to get out of. When looking at statistics, over 100 billion gallons of water is used in the United States but when compared to animal agriculture they consume more than 34 trillion gallons of water. They found that one hamburger is equivalent to 660 gallons of water. That one hamburger is equivalent to showering two entire months! Talk about a waste. We focus so much of our attention on the domestic use of water in American homes which comes down to only 5%. However, when you look at the amount of water animal agriculture uses, they use almost 55% of the water in the United States. That is 2,500 gallons of water for just 1 pound of beef. One thousand gallons of water are needed to produce 1 gallon of milk. That is insane to me. This causes growing water shortages which makes animal agriculture unsustainable. Seventy billion animals are raised annually worldwide. Everyday over 144 million animals are killed for food. The U.S. farm alone produces 7 million pounds of excrement every minute. That is a lot of cow poop.
When looking at the amount of meat an average American consumes, we consume over 209 pounds of meat each year. Everyday, a person that eats a plant-bladed diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, all equivalent of just 20 pounds of CO2 and one animal’s life. In order to stop this we need to think about when we eat meat, dairy and eggs, we feed this growing catastrophe. Change will happen as quickly as we convince each other to change what we  eat.

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2 thoughts on “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

  1. I too am shocked and outraged at the mass destruction the agricultural industry causes to the planet. I agree with co-producers Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn, that unless we address the issues caused by animal agriculture, global warming will continue to accelerate. I have only seen parts of Cowspiracy, though what continues to hit me the hardest is the amount of water the agricultural industry takes up. I see how you stress this in your post as well! The fact that one hamburger is the equivalent to 660 gallons of water is outrages. I was not aware that 1 gallon of milk uses 1000 gallons of water. These figures are driving Earth’s destruction. Water shortages worldwide are occurring more frequently as a result of global warming. If people cutback on meat consumption, water can be saved and, put to better uses. Methane releases will also be decreased which, will lessen greenhouse gas emissions. In attempt to be more sustainable, I practice a vegan diet. Films such as Cowspiracy, Food Inc and Super Size Me etc have been driving forces for this decision. I believe the effects of global warming will be slowed down, if everyone cuts their meat and dairy consumption in half. Like the film suggests, It would be ideal for meat and dairy consumption to be eliminated however, the economy relies too heavily on the food industry. It saddens me how corrupt food corporations are nowadays. Their blind ignorance towards global warming is disappointing. I too feel that change will occur once humans change their dieting habits.

  2. Thanks for the post, Caroline! It is so crazy to think that one hamburger requires water enough for two months’ of showering. We definitely need to get off of meat as a society. It’s a lot better for your health as well. Another documentary I’d suggest watching (and sharing with friends and family members) is Food Choices.

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