Some Interesting Figures

Tonight, I went to see the movie Cowspiracy. In case you haven't heard about this movie yet, and many people haven't because it isn't showing in most movie theaters, it's about the environmental effects of animal agriculture. It provides some startling data about those environmental effects, and it also makes the case that major environmental organizations do not seem to be interested in this as an issue.

As an example of the environmental issues discussed, the movie made the point that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to grow 1 pound of beef. That's not just the water that a cow might drink in its lifetime. That's also the amount of water needed to grow the grain, forage and roughage necessary to grow a cow. So, we might think about that next time we take short showers or shut the water off while we brush our teeth. As the movie demonstrates, the water we save in the shower or while brushing our teeth is minuscule compared to the amount of water involved in eating just one pound of beef.

Of course, this movie is an advocacy movie for giving up meat in our diets. So, it might be skewed or at least overstate the facts, right? Well, I wondered about that myself. So, I turned to a government website operated by the USGS for an "official answer." And guess what I discovered? According to the USGS website, it takes more than 2,500 gallons of water to raise 1 pound of beef. Who is USGS? They are a government-based science organization that among other things is responsible for providing information for water management in the United States. And what do they say? Well, they say it takes 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to make one 1/3 pound hamburger.

That's pretty water intensive. Compare that to 13 gallons to grow an orange. You'd have to eat at least 300+ oranges to equal the amount of water used in making a one-third pound hamburger, according to the USGS. A lot of people can eat that hamburger in one sitting, but I don't know anybody who can eat that many oranges in one sitting.

Anyway, water usage, clearing of the rain forests, climate change issues and more were all looked at in this movie. A lot of interesting figures were cited. And the one takeaway point that I got from the movie was the statement that you can't call yourself an environmentalist and also eat meat. I believe that's true. And for me, that's just one more reason for adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet.