The Meat and Dairy Industry Is Ruining the Planet

By Julia Kemp

Burgers, ice cream, steak, and butter—these American delicacies might be mouth-watering, but these food items, vital parts of the meat and dairy industry, account for one of the largest contributors to climate change. The meat and dairy industry proves detrimental to the state of the planet due to its invasive hoarding of agricultural space, toxic manure processing,  and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike all other food sources, meat and dairy farms require large quantities of feed and space to support livestock. In order to support a large number of animals, farmers have plowed over millions of acres of diverse land in the midwest to support the vast number of livestock presiding on meat and dairy farms. As a result, the natural prairies of the midwest have been stripped bare, and agriculture wastelands thrive in replacement. These meat and dairy farms, flooding the open landscape of agricultural areas, are smothered with toxic chemicals and fertilizers and allow manure and other waste to flow into surrounding waterways. 

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, meat and dairy specifically account for 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Much of the emissions come from poor farming practices, methane emissions from cattle, and transportation and processing of the meat itself.

Luckily, the popularization of meat-free protein substitutes like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers are making it easier for people to enjoy the meat taste and flavor without contributing to the horrors of the meat and dairy industry. Though there is still a lot of progress to be made within the food industry to correct climate change, there are strides being made, and I am optimistic that we, as humans, can correct the blunders we’ve made to the planet.