The adverse effects of animal agriculture on the environment have been well known for some time now. A recent study even revealed that the meat industry is having a bigger impact on the environment than oil. The information that meat is bad for our planet has contributed to many people across the world choosing to reduce their meat intake drastically. New research has even confirmed that around 58% of Americans are now turning away from animal sources of protein.
However, it is not simply pollution that is a concern in terms of animal agriculture, the meat industry is also harming the planet’s water, too. It turns out, 92% of our water footprint is caused by agriculture, with the production of livestock making up around a third of that figure. According to Global Meat News, ‘on a per gram of protein basis, beef’s water footprint is six times that of pulses.’
Furthermore, back in August, a report was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that named Tyson Foods as one of the major culprits behind the biggest ever ocean dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The meat giants and supplier to McDonalds, are responsible for 104 million tons of manure entering the water ways in the last 10 years, contributing to water scarcity. On 8th February, the company and their shareholders will meet for their annual general meeting. Global Meat News state that at this meeting ‘shareholders will urge the board of directors to adopt and implement a water stewardship policy to reduce the risks of water contamination.’
Tyson are also looking for alternatives to traditional meat production and have invested in the clean meat brand Memphis Meats and the creators of the popular ‘bleeding’ vegan burger, Beyond Meat. The CEO of the company, Tom Hayes, even stated towards the end of 2017 that he was ‘very excited’ about the future of plant-based protein. He said it was ‘an affordable, sustainable technology to leverage to help feed the world on a sustainable basis.’ And an effective method of keeping our water ways free of manure it seems.
With hope, these new investments from one of the worlds largest meat producers represent a large shift occurring in the world of animal agriculture. One that reduces the human water footprint and helps to significantly lessen the amount of animal suffering in the process.
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