Famous actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio is joining many other celebrities and a powerful Hindu nationalist group in urging people to completely stop eating beef.
Over the past decade or so, red meat has become a popular target for both health and environmental activists. An estimated 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the carbon emissions from the global livestock sector, with the beef and dairy industry accounting for 65% of all livestock emissions.
DiCaprio has actively campaigned for environmental issues for years now. He helped produce the popular documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, which outlines some alarming statistics and the threat animal agriculture poses to our planet, and is now joining forces with Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevvak Sangh (RSS) to advocate for a complete ban on eating beef.
RSS is a non-governmental organization affiliated with many important entities in India including charities, schools, and political parties, including Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The group’s call for a ban on beef is motivated by Hindu religious culture, which holds cows to be sacred, while DiCaprio and other fellow activists, including Sir Richard Branson and Sir David Attenborough, are motivated by the devastating environmental impacts of the beef industry.
You may be thinking, why should I care what a celebrity has to say?, and for good reason, but the truth of the matter is, a celebrity as well known as DiCaprio can influence a lot of people with what he chooses to stand up for. With millions of fans within his reach, he can truly make a difference in the world by standing up for environmental issues and making more people aware of them. At the very least, he brings attention to issues which people might otherwise never have heard about.
Video: Leonardo DiCaprio Speaking Out Against Climate Change At The Global Citizen Festival
Quick Facts About How Animal Agriculture Is Destroying Our Environment
Many people are simply unaware of the devastating effects of what modern animal agriculture is doing to our environment, but it is the leading cause of climate change and carbon emissions.
- 260 million acres (and counting) of U.S. forests have been clear-cut to create land for producing feed for livestock.
- 70% of the grain that is produced in the U.S. is fed to farm animals
- Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have stated that the equivalent of SEVEN football fields of land are bulldozed every single minute to create more land for farming animals.
- 2,400 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of meat. Only 25 gallons are needed to produce 1 pound of wheat. You would save more water by not showering for 6 months than you would by eating a pound of meat!
- In the 2004-2005 crop season all the wild animals and trees in over 2.9 million acres of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil were destroyed in order to grow crops to produce feed for chickens and other factory farmed animals.
- Close to half of all water used in the USA goes to the production of animals for food.
- A United Nations report from 2006 states that animal agriculture is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
- The EPA reports that roughly 80 percent of ammonia emissions in the US come from animal waste. Atmospheric ammonia can disrupt aquatic ecosystems, ruin soil quality, damage crops, and jeopardize human health.
- Cows and sheep are responsible for 37% of the total methane (23 times as warming as CO2) generated by human activity.
You may also be surprised to learn that it takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie from animal protein as it does to make 1 calorie from plant protein. This is what that process actually looks like:
1) Grow massive amounts of corn, grain, and soybeans (with all required tilling, irrigation, crop dusters etc.)
2) Transport the grain and soybeans to feed manufacturers on gas-guzzling 18 wheelers.
3) Operate the feed mills
4) Transport the feed to the factory farms
5) Operate the factory farms
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6) Truck the animals many miles to slaughter
7) Operate the slaughterhouse
8) Transport the meat to processing plants
9) Operate the meat processing plants
10) Transport the meat to grocery stores
11) Keep meat refrigerated or frozen in stores until sold
Keep in mind, this would be much more than 11 steps if this meat was being processed further into fast-food or processed packaged products like hot dogs.
In order to save the environment, would you give up beef or at least drastically cut down your intake? Let us know in the comments section below!
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