Sunday Protein: Trillions of Farm Animals

Imagine every soon-to-be-eaten cow, pig, goat and chicken currently alive waiting for you when you open the door in the morning. You would see trillions of animals. As someone who can barely imagine what a million of something looks like, I don’t think I can conceive of a trillion beasts. But it’s important to think about such numbers when considering why it’s important to eat “green” meat, and less of it.

I got this idea from the NYTimes article this week talking about the impact of rising meat consumption on the fight against global warming. These ideas have been discussed elsewhere, but this article uses more numbers to put a better perspective on it.

“I’m not sure that the system we have for livestock can be sustainable,” said Dr. Pachauri of the United Nations. A sober scientist, he suggests that “the most attractive” near-term solution is for everyone simply to “reduce meat consumption,” a change he says would have more effect than switching to a hybrid car.

Manure, flatus, refrigeration, transportation and feeding – all combine to make your daily meat less eco-friendly than the Ford Expidition you load up with ‘brauts for tailgating. So, in this case, less is more: eat less meat now to make sure the industry is sustainable and we won’t be eating too much tofurky on Thanksgiving or quorn at Christmas.

[Image by Matt Gardy]

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