How Could I Be So Stupid?


Maša and I recently watched Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. And yes, to all of our fellow vegan friends, I know we’re a little late to the party. But better late than never, right? Anyway, I have to say that this documentary affected me…big time!

I initially become vegan for ethical reasons after watching Earthlings. You can read our story here. Health has never been the focus of making the change, although it has been a nice side effect of the vegan lifestyle.

But now after watching Cowspiracy, there’s another reason to be vegan that could be even stronger than the breeding and slaughtering of animals for consumption. The environment.

If Earthlings questioned my heart, Cowspiracy questioned my mind.

I’m far from being a genius, but I like to think I’m not the dumbest person in the world. After watching this documentary, I felt stupid. Really stupid.

I felt stupid because the Director’s Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, compiled strong evidence that the agriculture industry is the number one sector contributing to destroying our environment.

I’m not talking about saving animals right now. I’m talking about global warming. Like most of us, I thought CO2 emissions were the main contributors to destroying our environment, but as it turns out, it’s the agricultural inputs that consume the majority of our resources.

“Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.”

“Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Methane has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.”

Makes sense right?

Also, cow’s are big and therefore have big appetites, and with over 7 billion people in the world to feed, we need an unsustainable amount of water, grass, corn and whatever else we’re feeding them to keep up with demand. The same is true for all animal farming.

So that’s why I feel stupid. I only saw the agriculture industry on one side, the outputs of meat, poultry and dairy. However, I completely overlooked the market within the market, which is how we sustain this level of production and how it impacts our environment. Just look at these numbers:

“Agriculture is responsible for 80–90% of US water consumption.”

“Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.”

“2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.”

That’s a lot of water for a piece of steak!

These examples take me back to basic economics at university. Demand, supply, market inputs and market outputs.

So what does this all mean exactly? It means that I have another reason to be vegan (not that I needed any more motivation). And it makes me a little mad, to be honest. Seeing this logical data triggers the activist in me. And that sucks because I promised myself that I wouldn’t be one of those “preachy vegans”. But stuff it. I care too much about the current and future environment for our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all the generations to come.

If we continue to consume animal products, we ruin the planet.

Simple as that. So my question to you now is, what are you going to do about it?

I’m not suggesting that you become a green munching hippie overnight. But you do have more power than you think.

Each time you go to buy food or a piece of clothing, you have a chance to place a vote. Even if it’s reducing your consumption of animal products by 20%, then to 50%, it’s a great start to making a shift in market demand. Not only will you save an animal from being slaughtered, but you also have a chance to protect the environment.

I know where I stand, I hope you do your part too.

PS – if you’re curious about some of the statistics used in this post and would like to see the sources, check out the facts page on the Cowspiracy website.

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  • Rosanna 21/04/2015 Reply

    You shouldn’t feel stupid at all!.. That’s is one of the best movies that documents a reality that the meat industry is trying to hide.. Even the big guys like Al Gore are been oblivious to that and that’s why they attack oil companies because it’s easier and they are fewer than all the farm animal factories.. Besides there is so much money from the meat industry pulled into the government that that is why they are keeping it hush.. California right now is going thru some major drought and their local government has asked people to cut back the consumption of water in more than 25% otherwise they’ll get a fine, meanwhile all animal farms are operating business as usual.. is that crazy or what? People just don’t want to face the reality until it’s going to hit us so hard that we are all going to be affected by it!.. We’ve seen this movie 6 times with family members and they still don’t change.. My husband changed immediately after watching this documentary! I’m so happy for that.. It’s made my life easier!
    I’m going to share your post on my FB!!!

    • Hi Rosana, thank you for your support! Yes it all seems so backwards doesn’t it? I’m glad to hear that your husband is on board, every change helps!

  • Else 22/04/2015 Reply

    I dont quite get the phrases “Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions” and “Livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions”. They seem to contradict each other? Or is there a big difference between animal agriculture and livestock? English is not my mother tongue so maybe its just me. But I am very curious to hear your explanation!
    Furthermore I want to say that I am really happy that your adressing this topic, it is so important. For me this is what made me go vegan :).

  • Anthea 22/04/2015 Reply

    Enjoyed reading the article, there is definitely more to the story though – hard to cover in one blog post though. Water usage in Australia is a little bit more complicated, and depending on where people get their meat from the US stats might not be as relevant. The largest volume of irrigated water in Australia is actually used to grow cotton, which uses roughly 25% of all irrigated water annually. And we’re the worlds 4th largest cotton exporter so it’s a big industry. As another example, growing rice in Australia uses more than three times the amount of water per hectare than all other agricultural purpose combined.

    In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, in Australia the agriculture sector accounted for 15% of our net greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a stat from 2007 and I’m not sure on how much things would have changed in the past 8 years.

    The ABS is a good place to research the complexities of agricultural production.

    • Rosanna 22/04/2015 Reply

      You have to consider that each cow (in the US or Australia) can drink up to 30-40 gallons of water everyday plus the water that you need to grow the crop that will feed that cow.. When you add it all up, you end up with more than 60-80 gallons a day per cow.. Estimate 6 cows/ person in the US, and that will give an idea of water consumption.. If everyone would consider cutting back or going vegan, imagine how much water could be saved and don’t even get me started with the greenhouse and pollution in general generated by animal factory farming.. I strongly suggest you try to watch Cowspiracy!!!

  • Anthea 22/04/2015 Reply

    I have a good suggestion to make! Rather than avoiding all meat products, perhaps we could encourage each other to focus on more environmentally friendly meat consumption. There are an estimated 3-17 million (they really have no idea how many) feral pigs in Australia, which are responsible for enormous environmental destruction. Not to mention Buffalos in the top end and rabbits etc. Reducing our meat consumption and managing feral animals simultaneously would be a really positive step in the right direction I think!

  • William 13/12/2015 Reply

    @Anthea and others – agree. Cut back, reduce waste, and choose carefully.

    Don’t overlook kangaroos either. Much more compatible with the Australian landscape, and with a much lower environment footprint than introduced species such as beef and lamb.

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