The impact of animal farming on the health of our environment has been extensive and global, from its effect on climate change, water use, forest destruction, river pollution, floods, and dead zones in the sea. It’s time to ditch the dairy and switch to plant-based milk.
Dairy products are a dietary staple of 6 billion people worldwide, or 80% of the human population. We’ve been conditioned by the dairy industry since childhood (remember those milk moustache ads?) to see milk as a healthy option, necessary for strong bones and growing bodies.
But the truth is, humans are the only species on earth that drinks milk after infancy, and we’re also the only one drinking milk from another species. For much of the developed world—where there are other options—dairy milk is not necessary for our survival, nor our health. In fact, factory farming, from which most of our meat and dairy products are derived, has raised ethical, environmental and health concerns—due to the use of antibiotics and growth hormones, as well as cholesterol levels— and has proven to be very detrimental to the health of our planet. From its affect on climate change, water use, forest destruction, river pollution, floods, dead zones in the sea, the impacts of animal farming are extensive and global.
Animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. It is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels.
Today’s agricultural system is incredibly resource intensive, covering 43% of the world’s ice- and desert-free land. Of this land, 87% is for food, with a significant proportion of that dedicated to animal agriculture— meat and dairy. When you consider that there are 1.7 billion cows on the planet, that’s a huge problem. Cows produce copious amounts of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change, and poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources.
In fact, animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. It is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels. Furthermore, unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can lead to the loss of ecologically important areas, such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.