Sigh. Well, Um..

When I started writing for Lone Star Plate, I vowed I would never mention a certain famous and flashy vegan group. No matter how demeaning or obnoxious they were. But, well, one of their demeaning, obnoxious protests has a very good point behind it that I think is getting lost.

So, if you got here by googling “Why the hell are naked women showering outside my office building and what does meat have to do with the drought in Texas,” here is the connection between meat and water usage.

  • First, as I’m sure you know, Texas is in the midst of a huge drought. Many places are 20 inches below their average rain fall. Average rain falls aren’t a whole lot more than 20 inches to start with in much of Texas. (LCRA and National Atlas)
  • Fertilizer and pesticide runoff from crops grown to feed food animals gets into waterways and creates dead zones where no animal life can survive. (Read about the Chesapeake Bay, for instance.)(Environmental Working Group, which is not a vegetarian organization)
  • Slaughterhouses produce a huge amount of pollution in our waterways. In fact, eight slaughterhouses consistently number among the top twenty polluters of surface water. (EWG)
  • And quoting directly from the EWG: “A California Water Education Foundation study found that one gallon of tofu requires 219 gallons of water per pound, compared to 477 gallons for eggs, 896 gallons for cheese and 2,463 gallons for beef. A frequently cited global study estimates that it takes 1,857 gallons to produce a pound of beef, and 469 gallons for a pound of chicken (not including processing).”
  • Texas is the largest beef producing state, producing about 16% of the U.S. beef supply. (USDA and EPA)
So what does this mean? Well, obviously livestock production isn’t causing the drought in Texas. The drought is happening because it isn’t raining. But how livestock production factors in is our water use and the availability of clean water. 
Growing livestock for consumption uses up a lot of water. Think about it. That cow you’re eating had to eat a lot of grain (or possibly grass or hay) to get to the size it did. And if it’s eating grass, it had to eat even more since it takes longer for grass-fed animals to reach full size. The water used for all that animal feed could be put to much better use.
Beyond this, water is polluted at every stage of the process. Fertilzers and pesticides pollute waterways and cause dead zones, grazing pollutes streams with manure, feedlots concentrate water pollution into a small area, slaughter produces toxic waste which is dumped into our waterways, and in the end, 20 percent of the meat produced ends up wasted in landfills.
Eating meat is unnecessary. You can get all the calories and nutrients you need from plants. And you’ll likely improve your health if you replace meat with beans, whole grains, vegetables, and beans. And trust me, vegan food really can taste good
In the end, it isn’t necessary to eat meat, and we need to take our food production and consumption into account when we talk about ways to converse water. Not getting a glass of water when you sit down at a restaurant is piddling when we talk about the amount of water used in growing animals for food.

2 thoughts on “Sigh. Well, Um..

  1. It may not be what you think. Look up the work of Allan Savory. hes been using meat (cattle) to restore deserts created by agraculture like wheat monocrop farms.

  2. I can't find much that isn't self-promotional about Allan Savory. And definitely nothing from a reputable science source. Without more information, I can't give a well-informed opinion.

    But what I do see doesn't address polluted water ways and water use, but desertification, which, at the moment, isn't the issue. I also don't see how reversing desertification will address all of climate change, which involves many factors other than desertification. I also don't see how it could be applied in the United States with current rates of meat consumption.

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