How Does Our Consumption of Animal Products Affect the Environment?

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My starting point for this paper was the movie Food Inc. directed by Robert Kenner. Although the film’s main purpose was to expose how detrimental today’s food industry is to our health, at the same time I found myself wondering how the food industry and our diets affect the environment. The film mentions how the meat industry takes heavy tolls on the environment because of the land that must be devoted in order to raise livestock—both to grow the food for the animals to eat and to provide a place for the animals to reside. The film also mentions how there are only 4 or 5 major crops that are grown in America—including corn, wheat, and soybean, which are used a lot for animal feed—which decreases America’s biodiversity (Food). All of …show more content…
Frances Lappe was one of the first people in the 70s to suggest that the consumption of animal products had an impact on the environment, as well as the economy. And, although Lappe later refuted her own claims on how animal consumption harms the economy, she still maintains her claims on how animal consumption harms the environment. In her book, Diet For A Small Planet, she claims that by 1985, livestock were estimated to eat more than 50% of the world’s grain (Lappe, 89). In other words, the animals that we eat in some parts of the world are eating more grain than the entire world’s human population. Most farmers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides to grow crops not only meant for animal feed, but also meant for human consumption. Americans today tend to believe that chemical fertilizers are things that makes plants grow faster and bigger, while also somehow poisoning the crops so that they are less healthy to consume (Food). However, only half of this is actually true. Chemical fertilizers are simply essential nutrients for plants, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, that have been isolated and synthesized into a form that farmers can use on their crops as they please. The increase in nutrient levels allows crops to grow bigger and faster, but in no way poisons them or makes them any less suitable for consumption. In Stuart Kallen’s book Is Factory Farming Harming America?, he discusses how what really harms the plants is pesticides, because not only do they

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