Plants don’t have feelings – animals do

People have undergone various efforts to save energy and reduce their use of fossil fuels, including buying hybrid cars and installing solar-powered panels in their houses. Although these efforts are worthwhile, it seems the American public is barking up the wrong tree.

To save the most energy and resources, people must green their diet before their car.

Buying locally grown and/or organic products helps, but the most important factor is meat. In fact, when it’s all calculated out, a vegan driving a car uses less fossil fuels than a pedestrian who is powered by hamburgers.

Why is this so? If you’ve taken any physics or biology courses, you are likely to be familiar with the fact that 90 percent of energy is lost through each trophic level in the food chain. This is because it takes energy for the “prey” to simply be alive and metabolically function. Most of this energy is lost as heat. It is more efficient to eat low on the food chain.

And in this country, with people eating such large, unnecessary amounts of meat, this loss of energy becomes a problem. Raising animals for food uses more than one-third of all fossil fuels and raw materials in the United States. It is ridiculous to grow crops and then regain only one-tenth of them by eating them secondhand through animals.

And it’s not just energy. Tangible resources are hogged (no pun intended) by the meat industry as well. Of all agricultural land in the United States, 87 percent is used to raise animals for food. A meat eater requires 20 times more agricultural land than a pure vegetarian requires. Imagine if all this land that was used for crops was fed directly to humans – there would be 10 times more food. This is not an issue that should be ignored considering all the poverty and hunger in the world. Massive amounts of water are used as well. One thousand times more water is used to produce a pound of meat than a pound of wheat.

Pollution is a major issue as well. Fecal runoff from farms pollutes groundwater and the air, and of course there are no federal guidelines for how these farm factories have to treat, store or dispose of this excrement. Animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. population. That is a lot of poop.

Residential areas around farm factories have high cases of disease, particularly caused by bacteria, parasites and chemical contaminants of the farm runoff. So not only are the farm factories using up all the water, they’re polluting it as well.

Then there is the factor that these “food products” are actually living beings that feel pain. These animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and cages where they spend their lives. At slaughter, they are often dipped into scalding tanks or experience other atrocities while fully conscious.

Many people who consider themselves “environmentalists” support various efforts or funds to save endangered or exotic animals. Animals are part of the environment, of course. But what about pigs, cows or chickens? Perhaps it feels too close to home. It’s easy to send a couple dollars to the Save the Endangered So-and-So Fund, but to actually give up the precious Standard American Diet? (Gasp!)

Don’t get me wrong – it’s great to protect the Asian tiger and the turtles of the Galapagos. But if there’s steak on your plate, call yourself a hypocrite.

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