Last May I saw a documentary that was going to change the way I ate forever. The film was Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The film, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, follows filmmaker Kip Anderson as he learns how devastating the meat and dairy industry is to our environment and why respected environmental advocacy groups seem afraid to even mention it.
I’ve always considered myself to be pretty up to date on things concerning the environment. I did what I could to recycle, conserve water, and take public transport whenever possible. But it turns out that none of my green-doings could cancel out the impact I was still making by eating meat. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of green house gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. Learning that fact from Cowspiracy absolutely BLEW.MY.MIND. I had no idea that simply eating meat could be so detrimental to the health of the planet. To me, that was the most jarring fact, but there are so many disadvantages associated with the meat and dairy industry. For example, it takes approx. 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1lb. of beef and 1,000 gallons are required to produced 1 gallon of milk. Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Oh and we could also feed every single person on earth if we diverted the food we feed to livestock to humans.
The final nail in my carnivore coffin was when one of the scientists featured said something along the lines of “you cannot call yourself an environmentalist and eat animal products.” I have not eaten meat since that night.
I am slowly trying to make my way to becoming vegan. I plan to do the “30-Day Vegan Challenge” offered on the Cowspiracy website. I think every single person should have to watch this documentary. Is that one cheeseburger really worth over 2,000 gallons of freshwater? Available on the U.K. and U.S. Netflix, but here is a quick fact sheet if you do not have access to the documentary.