One thing that has been addressed in many of my Public Health classes, as well as today in class, is something that I think is often overlooked. The way that our food is processed so that we can buy it in the store or order it in a restaurant is a process that not only harms our environment but can also harm our health.
Animal agriculture has many effects on our environment. It is a large source of income for most countries with approximately 45% of the world’s land being specifically used for raising livestock. This increasing need for land comes with consequences such as deforestation, and desertification. The large amount of animals being raised for consumption comes with the need to feed and water these creatures. Though deforestation is sometimes the result of logging, it can also occur from clearing the land for animal grazing or for growing crops. As we discussed in class, animal agriculture accounts for 80-90% of the water consumption in the United States! This was definitely a surprise to me!
Though I have heard about these things before, most of these things still came as a shock to me. Another thing that is surprising is how animal agriculture is responsible for over 30% of global greenhouse emissions! Also, I never thought about how animal agriculture would contribute to targeted killing.
The things I have mentioned above have to do with the environment directly, however, these things can also affect our health as humans. Because of the demand for meat, the animals are placed in cramped conditions, which provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This means that the animals have to be treated with wide-range antibiotics to keep them from being sick. The antibiotics also make the animals grow bigger, faster. However, the excrement from these animals, containing these antibiotics have the possibility of infecting the ground water. If the ground water is infected, the effects could be harmful to our health.
I did not realize before how animal agriculture could affect the environment in so many ways. This is definitely something that we need to find solutions for.