This article was originally posted April 13, 2011 on Green Marketing TV.
One of the biggest environmental problems in the world today is the way modern farmers raise the meat, milk, and eggs we eat. As sustainable agriculture guru Wendell Berry once observed, when we took animals off farms and put them onto feedlots, we replaced an elegant solution – crops feed animals and animal waste feeds crops — and divided it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm, and a pollution problem on the feedlot. Today nitrogen fertilizer runoff from farm fields poisons waterways and contributes to a growing number of “dead zones” in lakes and oceans around the world, while “manure lagoons” and other waste treatment efforts on factory farms poison air for miles around, and sometimes seep into groundwater or overflow into streams, poisoning water supplies for nearby communities. Industrial animal agriculture is also responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, the rise of some antibiotic resistant diseases, and more.
While some eco-conscious omnivores have turned to more sustainably raised meat, dairy, and eggs in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of their diets, many others have turned to the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. A 2008 survey by Vegetarian Times found that 47% percent of respondents cited environmental concerns as a significant influence on their decision to become vegetarian or vegan. Today, studies have found that about 7% of Americans consider themselves to be vegetarian, and about 1% to be vegan. In addition, many eco-conscious Americans participate in “Meatless Mondays” or identify as “flexitarian,” a primarily vegetarian lifestyle. About 20-30% of Americans report that they regularly eat vegetarian meals.
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