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Environmental impact of livestock
Livestock have a large negative impact on the environment, through greenhouse gases, nitrogen pollution, deforestation, and ammonia, which contributes to acid rain.
Livestock, when used for meat, also use far more resources than the same amount of nutrients in vegetable form (e.g. grains or legumes). This may be less true for animals which use resources not suitable for other uses, such as grass-fed cattle, where the land is not suffering from deforestation.
The greater resource use has economic as well as environmental implications; high consumption of animal products is also less desirable from a health point of view than a diet high in vegetables.
It is important to note that the vast majority of this impact of excessive livestock rearing and consumption of animal products is due to consumption by wealthy countries. However, it is now becoming an issue for countries such as China, which now consumes more meat than the USA (though still much less on a per capita basis).
Footnotes and references
- Cow Banks – what are they? - Ockenden Cambodia. accessed 15 December 2006
- Livestock a major threat to environment - Remedies urgently needed, FAOW, 29 November 2006.