There are many powerful forces in the United States that work to influence politics in Washington. The ability to advocate for your interests is a cornerstone of democracy, and groups from every sector exercise this right. In order to keep interest groups from wielding too much power of lawmakers, there are regulations in place surrounding funding and access. It is important that no one sector is too influential, because in a democracy, all sides of an issue must be heard.
If this is true in the United States, then everyone should be able to voice their opinions on important issues, such as climate change and water usage. Unfortunately, this is not currently the case, as shown by the power of America’s meat industry. According to the US Department of the Interior 2009 Geologic Survey, Animal Agriculture water consumption in the US ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually, and animal agriculture is the number one source of greenhouse gases. Why aren’t we talking about this? Concerned, environmentally conscious citizens should be considering vegetarianism to be a responsibility.
The well being of our environment has been rapidly decreasing in the past decade, and likely global climates will be unable to handle more change. We all know turning lights off and driving cars less helps our planet, yet almost every person is harming the environment dramatically on a daily basis: during our meals. It was recorded in an article by the National Public Radio that in 2012, in America, we consumed over 52.2 billion pounds of meat. That number feels almost too big to grasp, so let’s put it into perspective. Let’s compare it to wheat—one of the most fundamental crops in our world today. Your average American citizen will consume around 132.5 pounds of wheat annually. With 318.9 billion US citizens, we are consuming over 42.2 billion pounds of wheat a year. 10 billion pounds short of our meat consumption.
When I found this out, I was astonished. Animals take up space, produce waste, and require huge amounts of food, chemicals, and water. In 1909, it was recorded in the same article that around 9.8 billion pounds of meat were consumed: 42.4 billion pounds less than today. Despite the population being lower, the proportions still don’t add up. The meat consumption within the US has been growing exponentially and is continuing to do so.
Meat, pound per pound, has a much larger impact on our environment than any other food we consume. The most unfortunate part of it all is many people, including myself before I began research, are not aware that what they eat affects the environment. Often times people don’t jump to food when they think about the contributors to climate change and pollution; however, it has an incredibly large impact in many different ways. In being conscious when choosing what we eat, we can reduce our carbon footprints and our effect on the environment.