Free Essay. Environmental Impacts of Meat Eaters vs. Plant-Based

Published: 2023-02-12
Free Essay. Environmental Impacts of Meat Eaters vs. Plant-Based
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Ecology Vegetarianism Pollution Nutrition
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1615 words
14 min read

Environmental sustainability has been a major topic of discussion across the world. The research on a daily basis is done to find the proper ways of conserving the environment. With the continuous pollution of the environment, there has been a debate on the issues that contribute to environmental pollutions. The suggestions of possible causes of the same have been raised to include the kinds of foods that we choose to consume. Climate change is altering the security of the human food supply. The increased rain, rising temperatures, and increasing rains as a result of climate change will all bring impact not only to crops and livestock but also to humans.

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Food production also, is among the major contributor to climate change and in particular, global warming. Together with forestry, agriculture accounts for about 25 percent of the greenhouse emissions (Macdiarmid, Jennie, Flora Douglas, and Jonina Campbell, 490). The environmental impact that comes as a result of eating meat or plant will typically vary, and therefore, we should go for the one that brings less impact to the environment. The studies show that most of the health-related disease arises as a result of polluted environment. For the proper understanding of these impacts, some ways that contribute to the environmental impact as a result of consuming meat or plants will be discussed in detailed. From the statistics, it is apparent that farming practices will always not be the same, especially the impact it brings to the environment (Macdiarmid, Jennie I., Flora Douglas, and Jonina Campbell, 491). Some of the farming methods are more harmful than others. The two sides will be looked at in terms of water usage, land usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and water pollution. Throughout the paper, therefore, there will be examination of environmental impact of both meat-eaters and plant-eaters and a proper decision will be made based on the impacts that will be enumerated.

Ways in Which Meat Industry Impact the Environment

The effect of meat consumption on the environment gets becoming the topic of discussion. Rearing livestock for meat and other purposes is known to be contributing to global warming. This is through the methane gas which these animal produce. Moreover, the other main area of concern when it to climatic changes in relation to rearing of livestock is deforestation that occurs when seeking land for pasture. Individuals try to understand the impact of the meat industry, and the question that has remained asked is whether it is possible to become a meat eater and a climate activist at the same time. If the land were preferred for rearing animals rather than growing crops, there would be the loss of soil and precious water, and the trees would likely be cut down for the purpose of grazing the animals (Reynolds, Christian John, et al. 2253). Also, there would be higher pollution of the environment since the untreated animal waste and factory farm sheds would increase pollution of streams and rivers.

Meat eater has ben listed the second largest environmental effect that faces the earth after the fossils fuel vehicles. Animals agriculture is, therefore, responsible for the increasing greenhouse effect. From the statistics, it is true that 1 pound of flesh conversion by cows requires the conversion of vegetables amounting to 16 pounds (Reynolds, Christian John, et al. 60). Therefore, raising animals for food consumes more water than planting crops for foods. It requires water of about 2500 galloons to generate a pound of meat, whereas 25 gallons for wheat production (Reynolds, Christian John, et al. 61).

Land Usage

Rearing animals will means setting aside land for accomplishing that purpose. From the research, the approximate land set aside for producing crops that will act as animal feed and land for grazing usually covers about 80 percent of the agricultural land (Reynolds, Christian John, et al. 2251).The research also shows that beef production requires about 20 times the size of land that will be required to produce beans. There should, therefore, be the need for balance of land usage for food production. The balance will both create enough food for the living population and reduce emissions.


Deforestation is the act of cutting down trees without any step of planting news ones. This is an act that is discouraged in most countries. The acts of deforestation by man are mainly enhanced by certain factors that could include the need for land for settlement, agriculture, and rearing of crops. As mentioned earlier, the land need for rearing animals is about 80 percent of the agricultural and. It would, therefore, be preferable to use land for planting crops that rearing animals. This implies that plant-eaters are less likely to cause more damage when compared to meat-eater that will demand to the rear of animals in a larger piece of land.

The research shows that the meat industry is the biggest cause of deforestation because of the need for land for rearing animals. The land needed could be for soy cultivation that would generate enough feed for animals and cattle ranching. The main reason why cattle ranching is regarded as the main cause of deforestation is because of the land it demands. The cattle uses more energy to convert grasses to the required protein for their bodies.

Water Usage

Water is the main source of survival for both plants and animals. The consumption of water varies on how the two use. Meat production requires more water than crop production. Animals need more water in their bodies for survival. The water footprints for pork, beef, and other meats show the largest water usage in their production (Scarborough, Peter, et al. 180). The question that remains is why meat production is water-intensive. To properly understand the reason behind this question, it is necessary to analyze the food which the livestock takes. Therefore, the concept of water footprint easily gives some insight. Analysis of the water footprint shows that more water is needed by the animal to convert food taken into the meat.

Water Pollution

Water pollution is contributed in many ways. There are methods that are associated with crop farming and those that are associated with livestock farming. If not handled properly, the animal waste produced by the reared animals may cause pollution of freshwater. Also, the use of fertilizers that enhanced the production of animal feeds significantly contributes to the pollution of water sources.

Meat and the Greenhouse Gas Emission

The environmental impact of meat is most identified in terms of gas emission. The world Resource Institute reveals that almost 25% of the earth's greenhouse gas emission is a result of food production (Scarborough, Peter, et al. 184). The dairy and beef industry are the main contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases. When compared to human cause of greenhouse emissions, the livestock takes about 15 percent representation. Of the animal species, the cattle are responsible for most emissions, which represent 65 percent emission from the livestock sectors (Macdiarmid, Jennie, Flora Douglas, and Jonina Campbell, 490).

The recent research shows that a huge reduction in meat consumption is necessary to avoid changes in climate. The research also indicates that changing to farming is important to avoid the destruction of the earth, which feeds millions of people.

The Plant-Based Eaters

Plants based eaters are individuals who specifically major on the consumption of greens rather than meat. They depend majorly on crop products as their sources of food. According to the UN experts, switching to eating plants diets helps significantly to fight climate change in many ways. Their report reveals that many people on earth could be accommodated and fed in less peace of land if individuals would shift to plant-eating (Reynolds, Christian John, et al. 2258).

Another important element of plant-based eaters is seen in terms of cleaning air. Typically, plants are known to be taking in carbon dioxide produced by animals and in turn releases oxygen that human beings and other animals take. It is, therefore, true that the plant-eaters conserve environment since they plant crops, which, apart from acting as a source of food, are also the air cleaners.


In summary, human beings should make proper decisions on the type of food to consume. Meat, for instance, is an important part of identity and heritage. In many communities across the world, meat is a cultural stable. However, with the changing dynamics, people across the world are getting to understand the risks that are associated with meat consumption. Individuals who major on a diet risk in meat possess a higher risk of developing heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Additionally, meat majoring on meat consumption makes the earth sick. Rearing livestock that includes cows, pigs, and chickens generates a lot of greenhouse gases. The cattle ranchers, for instance, have to clear most of the forested lands in search of land for grazing animals.

The population should begin shifting and major on plant consumption to reduce the problems that are associated with industrial livestock production. There should be a commitment to reduce dairy and meat consumption and learn to make the vegetables and fresh fruits part of our diets and major on the purchase of fresh organic products.

Works Cited

Macdiarmid, Jennie I., Flora Douglas, and Jonina Campbell. "Eating like there's no tomorrow: Public awareness of the environmental impact of food and reluctance to eat less meat as part of a sustainable diet." Appetite 96 (2016): 487-493.

Reynolds, Christian John, et al. "Are the dietary guidelines for meat, fat, fruit and vegetable consumption appropriate for environmental sustainability? A review of the literature." Nutrients 6.6 (2014): 2251-2265.

Reynolds, Christian John, et al. "Evaluation of the environmental impact of weekly food consumption in different socio-economic households in Australia using environmentally extended input-output analysis." Ecological economics 111 (2015): 58-64.

Scarborough, Peter, et al. "Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK." Climatic change 125.2 (2014): 179-192.

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