30 March 2013
Meat or Tofu?
When we look around us we cannot deny all the changes starting with the weather and the level of pollution, but also our diminishing resources such as fresh water. Our planet is slowly being destroyed by the increasing population and its demands. World agriculture is currently faced with the challenge of feeding a rapidly increasing global population, predicted to peak at 9.2 billion by 2075 (FAO, 2006). In its efforts to meet our increasing food demands the agriculture is increased production and raised more livestock. Unfortunately as stated in West and Marland, 2002 the increased production resulted in increased use of fertilizers and pesticides, chemicals that end up in our fresh water, and more emissions from operation of farm machinery. In order to be able to grow more cattle for our daily meat intake a lot of tropical rainforest is being cleared to make way for pastures. The result is land erosion and deterioration and ads to the greenhouse effect. The impact on the locals cannot be ignored either since more people are being forced to change their diverse farming to a single crop, which is soya not for human consumption but for cattle feed. As Jeff Morisette points out in his article "Cropland Expansion Changes Deforestation Dynamics In The Southern Brazilian Amazon." every year the soya production will have to increase which will means more area is being deforested for cropland. Also feeding our livestock with grains just means “more cropping land, water, fuel and chemicals being used.” [Wahlquist]
Our ecosystem is very sensitive to changes and even if some the changes are not immediate we can observe the damages triggered by just one event. We are using a lot of fresh water to transform deserts into to pastures, water that is becoming scarce everywhere. All the grazing cattle and land use changes has converted the vegetation in many places. Foreign species become predominant and with that rain fall can also change. Gerlach is estimating that all these changes in California’s Central valley will result in the loss of water ranging from 16-75 million dollars. “The exotic annual grass communities are now rapidly being invaded by a Eurasian summer-flowering annual thistle that has caused losses of soil moisture resources on invaded sites of 15–25% of mean annual precipitation.” [Gerlach]
When the cattle digest, they release methane gas which is contributing to the air pollution and global warming. And O’Mara points out that it will only get worse over the years as livestock related emissions will increase over 30% from 2000 to 2020. The more beef we produce the more we accelerate global warming.
I do believe it is our responsibility to develop a plan on reducing global warming and deforestation. One simple approach is to think about reducing meat consumption. We could even profit from ingesting protein from plants. Cattle consume 15 pounds of grain for every pound of beef they give. We could use those produced crops to feed the entire Earth population. “A more rational food system would raise cattle on grasslands but not feed them high quality grains. Instead more of the currently grown crop could be devoted to human consumption.” [Wahlquist]
The alternatives to the daily meat are various. It would be very healthy to have days with vegetarian meals. Coking with beans or just serving vegetables every other day would be plenty. Tofu would be the other healthy alternative. Tofu is an unfermented soya-bean