Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of pasta and toss them in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food? How about leveling 55 square feet of rain forest for a single meal or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain? Of course you wouldn't. But if you're eating chicken, fish, turkey, pig, or cow, that's what you're doing - wasting resources and destroying our environment. To find out more about the environmental effects of eating animal products go to and click on "The Environment".

For the animals

Factory Farming: Animals slaughtered for meat in the U.S. in 2000
Species Individuals
Chickens* 8,251,743,300
Turkeys* 262,039,625
Pigs 97,976,000
Cattle 35,632,000
Ducks* 23,784,714
Sheep/Lambs 3,527,000
Calves 1,125,000
Goats 542,000
Total 8,676,369,639
*Data from federally inspected plants only Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Today's intensive confinement systems involve overcrowding, deprivation, mutilation (dehorning, branding, de-beaking, castration) and death. Over six billion animals are slaughtered every year to please the human palate. In the U.S. alone, over 8.6 billion animals are slaughtered each year for human consumption. They are slaughtered in high-speed production-line fashion as if they are inanimate objects. Regulations requiring 'humane' slaughter are rarely enforced, and birds (who represent more than 85% of animals killed for food) are not included in these regulations. Animals are often cut, skinned, scalded, and/or drowned while still alive. Male calves, a lucrative "by-product" of the dairy industry, are raised in solitary confinement for veal. They are taken away from their mothers just 24 hours after birth, chained by the neck, and kept without bedding in a small slated crate. For 16 weeks, they are immobilized, isolated, and fed iron-deficient diets so that their pale, tender flesh will appeal to gourmet appetites. Dairy cows are forced to produce ten times the milk they would normally generate to feed their calves. The vast majority of US dairy cows suffer from mastitis and other diseases of the utter. Once their production level drops (usually around the age of five), the cows are slaughtered for low-grade beef. Egg-laying chickens are crammed inside wire mesh cages so tightly they cannot stretch a wing. Their beaks are cut off with a hot blade to prevent feather plucking and cannibalism, which are neurotic behaviors caused by the stressful, inhumane conditions. Sows restrained in stalls barely bigger than their bodies, are continually impregnated and forced to produce piglets in intensive confinement. Living in their own filth on concrete floors, pigs suffer from pneumonia and lung damage and constant foot and ankle pain. Boars are castrated without painkillers or anesthesia. Wild animals suffer, too, as grazing land encroaches upon their habitats. Predators such as wolves and coyotes are poisoned, trapped and shot by farmers "wildlife management" officers who complain that cattle and sheep hers are jeopardized. "Animal Damage Control" as it is called, costs more than simply compensating farmers for their occasional losses. Each one of the six billion animals killed every year is an individual, sentient being, fully capable of feeling the boredom, stress, pain, thirst, fear and panic imposed on him or her. The meat industry considers the animal a profit-making item, whose death is merely part of the production process. Experimenters can now genetically engineer, integrate and eliminate certain characteristics and traits, in efforts to increase productivity in animals. Such manipulation causes pain and suffering, threatens the environment and public health and disregards the intrinsic nature. According to the USDA, 358,000 horses and ponies were slaughtered and processed in this country and exported to Europe for human consumption in 1989. An additional 77,203 horses were exported live to Canadian slaughterhouses. Millions of fish are intensely raised in concrete pools called 'raceways," and allowed approximately a cubic foot of water per 12 oz. fish. The use of unregulated antibiotics to treat disease leads to a contaminated runoff that can contain harmful bacteria and parasites. It then enters adjoining streams polluting the native fish, the humans who eat them and the entire ecosystem. Food industry experiments are a booming business in the US solely to increase profits. Animals are genetically altered to grow bigger and faster to unnatural proportions, causing extreme discomfort and suffering. Often, animals' bodies are unable to physically support their artificially overgrown muscles--the parts people eat. In laboratories, conditions intended to simulate disease in humans are deliberately induced in millions of dogs, cats, rats and other animals. There is irrefutable evidence that many of these conditions are preventable through change in diet, obviating the rationale for animal experiments. Since farmed animals are excluded from the Animal Welfare Act and state anti-cruelty laws, it is often considered more cost effective for a farmer to let a suffering animal die than to medically treat her or him.

For hungry people worldwide

While millions around the world face starvation, 90% of America's agricultural resources go to feeding animals the grains and legumes that could save humane lives. Many people who do not restrict their consumption of animal-derived foods suffer from various forms of disease, toxins, and antibiotic resistance, all of which can be attributed to contact with or consumption of animal products. If Americans reduced their intake of meat by 10 percent, the grain saved could adequately feed 60 million people. Most animals raised for food production are routinely given drugs, chemicals, and growth hormones that become concentrated in their flesh. This has resulted in 'superbugs'--bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, which have grown resistant to antibiotics due to their constant use in animals used for food. Meat is commonly contaminated with animal feces, other bodily fluids, or pesticide residue. Outbreaks of meat-borne pathogens regularly sicken and kill people. The meat industry involves some of the most dangerous jobs in the US - leading to high rates of on the job injury and/or death, little or no compensation for injury/death, high turnover rates, and a poorly trained and inexperienced workforce.

For the environment

Forests are razed for conversion to grazing and cropland to feed animals raised for food, devastating wild habitats in the US and rainforest ecosystems abroad. Converting forestland for use in animal agriculture causes irretrievable loss of topsoil (the US has already lost 2/3) and soil erosion (we lose four million acres of cropland every year, 85% of which is directly associated with livestock raising). More than half of all water used for all purposes in the US is used in livestock production (the amount of water used to raise a steer could float a battleship). Runoff from animal agriculture units contains billions of tons of animal waste. Animal waste winds up in our lakes, oceans, streams and rivers, accounting for more water pollution than all other human activities combined. Tropical rainforests are being destroyed in order to support the demand for meat in the United States. A University of California study shows that it takes 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat; it takes 2,500 gallons to produce one pound of meat. (Information courtesy of the American Anti-Vivisection Society

What's your carbon footprint?

The following sites will give you some insight into your personal contribution to global warming: