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Pescetarian Life

The Pescetarian Lifestyle and the Environment

From the World Watch Institute July/August 2004 edition:

"the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future - deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease."

Land Use
Water Supply and Quality

From: Agriculture and Water: Harvesting Water before Harvesting the Crop by Dr. Hans Schreier, Institute for Resources and Environment, UBC.
"There are three main reasons why demand for freshwater by the rapidly growing urban centers are increasing. The number of cities with population greater than 1 million will increase from 300 in 2000 to 500 by 2015 and this means large demands for drinking and domestic water. At the same time the recreational demand by urbanites is also increasing rapidly and this is known to be a very water consumptive industry.

The most critical concern however is the shift in food consumption by the urban population from staple food to a meat and fish dominated diet. This creates the greatest pressure on agricultural use of water, because meat consumption is exceedingly water consumptive. It has been estimated that 15,000-30,000 L of water is needed to produce 1 kg of beef, and 3000-4000 L are needed to produce one kg of chicken meat. In contrast only about 1000 L are needed to produce one kg of cereals (Gleick 2000).

Increases in meat consumption have exceeded population growth in most urban areas and to meet this demand agriculture has shifted meat production from grazing into stall feeding in concentrated feedlot operations. These industrial operations are still treated as typical agricultural operations where the waste is applied to the land with the hope that the soils and microbial population will take care of decomposition in a benign way. Considering that a full-grown cow produced 6-7 times as much nitrogen in the waste as a human being it is evident that a typical feedlot of 40,000 animals produced waste that is equivalent of a human population of 240,000 people. None of this waste is treated and since the economics of manure transportation is poor, little manure is shipped over long distances (Hatfield and Steward, 1998).

Over-applications of manure in the vicinity of large livestock operation is now a common problem that has reached global proportions and, given the unfavorable economic conditions for agricultural production, it is unlikely that things will change in the coming years. What is needed is a meat tax that will be used for waste treatment in intensive agricultural operations. This is likely the only way we will be able to deal with this amount of waste that is approximately 3 times larger than all the human waste generated globally."

NOTE: The above mentioned figure bears repeating: every time a person sits down to eat a 6 oz. steak, hamburger, meatloaf, sandwich, or stew, s/he is responsible for approximately 9.75 lbs output of CO2 into the atmosphere. Given that the average person consumes meat at least twice a day (lunch and dinner), and some also have it for breakfast, every week, year-round, it is not difficult to see how far the environmental impact can reach, particularly when one takes into account the pollution and water resources involved in the production of animal derived foods.

Energy Consumption and Sustainability
What is your ecological footprint?

Last updated: February 5, 2008

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