by Michele McKay

A logo proclaiming “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” may now appear on meat, poultry, egg and dairy products that meet qualifications of humane treatment defined by the non-profit organization Humane Farm Animal Care. The program is well-meaning in its intention of compassion, but paradoxically, no matter how well butcher animals are treated while being raised and handled, they are doomed to an eventual violent and brutal slaughter. And though the “humane” label may appeal to people who are concerned about the planet and its creatures, the truth is that every purchase of meat supports an industry that is the single largest contributor to environmental damage. If we really want our actions to reflect compassion, and if we want to help make the world a cleaner, healthier place, we cannot do it on a diet of animal flesh.

Consider the environmental havoc being caused by raising animals for meat:

  • Pollution: In the US, 130 times more sewage waste comes from livestock than from people. The livestock industry causes more water pollution than any other activity andis responsible for pesticide and heavy metal contamination of soils.
  • Water use: Raising animals for food requires more water than all other uses put together. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat.
  • Soil erosion: Animal farming is responsible for 85% of the soil erosion in the United States, and contributes to the loss of irreplaceable topsoil.
  • Land use and world hunger: 80% of our agricultural land is used to raise farmed animals, and 70% of the grain grown in the US is used to feed them. A plant-based diet represents a big step toward combating world hunger.
  • Fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, and air pollution: One-third of all the fossil fuel consumed in the US goes to factory farming, thus contributing to associated greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization calculates that at least 18% of global warming is livestock-related.
  • Deforestation: In the western hemisphere, millions of square acres of forest/rainforest have been stripped to raise livestock, causing environmental degradation and raising concerns about global climate change.

What you can do:

Over 10 billion land animals are killed for meat every year. As individuals, we can reject the violence and the environmental destruction of the slaughter industry by choosing a vegetarian diet. There is nothing “green” or humane about raising animals only to kill and eat them