Talk:Environmental vegetarianism

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Additional sources that may be useful[edit]

  • Pollan, Michael (13 Apr 2006). The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. The Penguin Press. pp. 450 pp. 

--Phenylalanine (talk) 22:25, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

title[edit]

I think this article could be improved if it were split/retitled to be something like "Meat production and the environment" because this is relevant to all eaters whether or not you're going to become a vegetarian over it. Calliopejen1 (talk) 14:10, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. In fact, I think we need a broader article on the subject of "Nutrition and Environmental sustainability", as this topic includes but is not limited to sustainable agriculture or Environmental vegetarianism. In the mean time, I introduced a section on "Nutrition and Sustainability" in the article "Sustainability". Please expand it! Thanks. --Phenylalanine (talk) 00:06, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I found exactly what I was looking for "Sustainable eating". I'm surprised it's still a stub given the importance of this subject. Please help me improve it. Cheers! --Phenylalanine (talk) 01:31, 8 February 2008 (UTC)


It is all a load of bull, quackery, but it's an attempt a bunch of nutjobs trying to force a vegan diet on people, which is unnatural. --12 September Susan Nunes —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.228.61.6 (talk) 19:42, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

I'll agree with you if you're speaking of Calliopejen1's comment; this is definitely not relevant to my eating habits. Food chain is.

"additional references"[edit]

These don't appear to actually be related to the content of the article, so I'm moving them here. If anyone wants to re-integrate them, feel free. Calliopejen1 (talk) 03:37, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Arguments against[edit]

The arguments for this are weak and one-sided; the entire page is one-sided. It doesn't address the nutritional needs of humans and how they are addressed by vegetarianism. Specifically, it doesn't address the distribution of food crops needed to service vegetarians-- for example, lots of soy products to provide several complete proteins and texturally similar meat replacements (hotdogs, soy patties), and even ovo-lacto replacements i.e. soy ice cream. It doesn't address their environmental impact on the necessary production scale. It also doesn't address the overall scale of nutritional value between a mixed and all-vegan diet, i.e. would a person not eating a pound of meat need to instead eat a pound of vegetables at a substantial economic and ecological savings, or six pounds of vegetables? In the latter case, would we need six times more crop land? --John Moser (talk) 22:19, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Sorry to say this, but you seem to have no idea of how all of these aspects of food production connects. The most important reason to why meat production is not sustainable is because it needs so much more land than what a pure plant production would need.
This is largely because of the conversion inefficiencies between the plant-to-meat transition. The latest figures I can remember showed that only about one tenth of the carbohydrates is left from the original plants once we convert them into beef. As a source of both energy and nutritions, meat is very wasteful, and frighteningly inefficient when it comes to the water usage. So to answer your question: No, it would probably be the other way around, which means that we could save a large amount of land if we switched over to a vegetarian diet, and still get the right amount of nutrients.
I don't care if this topic is controversial today, these are the facts and there's a lot more of them. But people will always try argue against changes they don't like, and in this case many do it by rejecting the scientific data which for so long has been av available.
I feel I can end this by saying that not everything which has to do with science has been delayed because the evidences was not there, but also because the interest and support were not there. There has always been an opposition to radical changes in humans, there are many historical records of this, but they were not all out of reason. --Nabo0o (talk) 13:44, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Many range lands which are ideal for raising cattle, sheep and other food animals are not suitable for growing arable food crops - Australia being a good example, and the dust bowl which arose in the USA in the 1930s when fragile semi arid range lands had been put under the plough and arable farming there failed. Meat raised on grasslands - for example deer, bison and kangaroo is quite environmentally sustainable and increases the world's food stocks. --58.169.177.123 (talk) 13:31, 17 September 2010 (UTC) - sorry I'll sign that again, I wasn't logged in: --MichaelGG (talk) 13:32, 17 September 2010 (UTC)
Without qualitative data about the land that 'is not suitable for directly consumed vegetables' how is this an argument against the article? It may be better to note that for the production of poultry, pigs consume a lot of high grade grain products, which is an argument in itself that the land used for that can be used for production of directly consumed foods as well. Note that the article also does not discard meat consumption as a whole and isn't as black and white pro-veganism as you may deduce from it. Also, 'quite environmentally sustainable' says nothing if you don't have any window of comparison. Abuse of the word sustainability is very easy if you compare it to regular meat production from cows, but what if you compare it to a vegetarian scenario? 137.224.220.53 (talk) 16:15, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Marginal food fed to poultry and small animals[edit]

I was talking with someone the other day, who objected that poultry and small animals like rabbits are fed on food that humans wouldn't eat. This seems to have a lot of truth to it; I've been reading about poultry feed and a good deal of it is byproducts of food fed to humans. I'd like to see something in this article quantitatively addressing this objection. He also said that when chickens are fed grain, it's not human quality grain, often. For example, the corn fed to chickens isn't the sweet corn that humans eat. And he said that the grain that the chickens eat, the flint or dent corn, grows twice as much calories on the same land as you can grow of sweet corn. Since chickens turn half the calories they're fed into chicken meat, he claimed, it works out the same. Again, I'd like to hear a quantitative evaluation of that sort of claim. I read one article comparing meat eating and vegan diets, but it didn't address this. Puffysphere (talk) 23:26, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Factory farming says that 74% of chickens worldwide are raised in confinement systems. Raising food that humans wouldn't eat, such as dent corn and grain, uses land and resources that could produce human food more efficiently than chicken meat. This claim does not need a quantitative evaluation by editors, but does need a reliable reference if it is to be included. Bob98133 (talk) 22:26, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Criticism[edit]

The criticism on this page is very specific and relates to very developed scenario's that are otherwise not discussed at all in the article. The 'criticism' mainly amounts to the less complex logistic and transition problems that would arise if the world needs to adopt a more vegetarian diet. This does not address the whole idea of meat-production being environmentally unsustainable. The facts are there, and there is little that can be brought against the numbers that nine billion human inhabitants of earth simply cannot live on the current meat-heavy diet of the western world. It is better to find criticism against that very idea (which will be there in the media given the natural opposition of any environmental issue).

The third paragraph also creates its own argument to give criticism upon. Nowhere in the article is it suggested that the extra plant material that can enter the market from the US as an effect of reduced meat consumption, should be dumped to the developing world. This paragraph doesn't even seem to belong here, but rather is an attack on the concept of food aid, which is a completely different subject and article. 137.224.220.53 (talk) 16:09, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

what is 42?[edit]

does anybody know what is 42 in the parentheses at the end of this sentence of the article:

"To produce 1 pound of feedlot beef requires about 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain (42)."

thanks Amidelalune (talk) 08:08, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Is this too America-centric?[edit]

This article seems to be heavily focused on the impacts on the USA, and not the planet. 81.111.74.50 (talk) 19:42, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Water Use[edit]

The article states: "Animals fed on grain need much more water than grain crops." The statement fails to meet the verifiability requirement for Wikipedia information, being from a media quote of a WHO representative, not from a reliable source on water use in agriculture. Moreover, the statement is erroneous. Per unit food mass produced, animals need far less water than grain crops do. This can be demonstrated, for example, by comparing data on water need by livestock (e.g. Forbes. 1968. Br. J. Nutr. 22: 33-43) with wheat crop transpiration data (e.g. Zhang et al. 1998. Plant and Soil 201: 295-305), expressing the data per unit mass of food produced. Additional peer-reviewed publications could be cited, confirming that the quoted statement from the Wikipedia article is incorrect. Perhaps the person quoted actually meant to refer not to animals fed on grain, but to animal production systems (including production of animal feed), which do need more water per unit mass of food produced (regardless of whether animals are fed on grain). However, one may note that, for a parcel of vegetated land, this difference in water need may have no environmental significance, because water use on that land parcel can be very similar whether pastured livestock, a grain crop or natural vegetation is on the land (with energy-limited evapotranspiration and similarity of the Priestley-Taylor alpha coefficient across land uses). (The difference in water use attributable to needs of livestock on the pastured land parcel is likely to be negligible; it may amount to less than 0.3 percent of the amount of water used in evapotranspiration.) Consequently, if one wishes to indicate environmental significance of the difference in water use per unit mass of food produced, it is necessary to indicate the conditions under which the difference is significant (and for neutrality, one should also indicate conditions under which it is not significant). At a minimum, the erroneous Wikipedia statement should be deleted. Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

" Inefficiencies" [sic]; 54:1 Ratio[edit]

The Wikipedia article states "In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1." The sentence does not make sense and lacks verifiability, conflicting very substantially with data from various reliable (including peer-reviewed) sources, as shown below. The Wikipedia statement is based on a press release purporting to present information from a 1997 presentation by Pimentel. The failure to make sense involves the fact that the Wikipedia statement confuses animal production energy with feed-to-dinner table energy. [Animal production can be tracked only to the farm gate. Agricultural production has been variously estimated as accounting for only about 14 to 20 percent of energy use in the US food system (Canning et al. 2010; Heller and Keoleian 2000). The remaining food system energy inputs, from farm gate to dinner table, are accounted for by processing, packaging, transportation, wholesaling, retailing, home and food service storage and cooking, etc.. Thus confusion of farm-to-fork energy use with energy use in agricultural production results in extremely large error.] The 54:1 ratio is for beef. There have been various independent studies of energy input/protein output in beef production systems, e.g. Heitschmidt et al. (1996. J. Anim. Sci. 74: 1395-1405) for numerous production systems, Cook et al. (1980. In: Handbook of Energy Utilization in Agriculture), and Pimentel et al. (1980. Science 207: 843-848). These independent sources indicate ratios of energy input to beef protein energy (metabolizable) output ranging from about 13.5:1 (Heitschmidt et al.: for 100 % calf crop, spring-calved slaughter beef, backgrounded, 126 days in feedlot, and including energy for cow support) to 20.5:1 (Pimentel et al.). [To convert kg meat protein output to Mcal metabolizable energy in meat protein, one multiplies by 4.27 Mcal/kg, as indicated by data of Merrill and Watt (1973. USDA Ag. Handbook 74). For gross energy, the multiplier is 5.65 Mcal/kg. The Merrill and Watt publication is a generally accepted source, being approved, for example, by US FDA regulations (CFR 21, sec. 101.9) as a source of energy data for certain food labeling. Use of the conversion figures would thus constitute routine calculation permitted under Wikipedia's NOR (no original research) policy.] The relative consistency of energy use figures from the independent studies and the great disparity between those figures and figures citing the 1997 presentation further support the conclusion that the statement quoted above must be considered an exceptional claim. [The Wikipedia verifiability guideline is that "Any exceptional claim requires multiple high-quality sources."] Moreover, expression of energy input on a protein energy output basis ignores as much as 69 percent of food energy output (i.e. metabolizable energy in meat lipids), as well as several important non-food outputs. The inclusion of only a small fraction of production output in the ratio shows that a ratio of input energy to protein output energy cannot be a measure of production inefficiency. (Nor can it be even an indicator of relative production inefficiency, where dissimilar commodities accompanied by dissimilar co-product outputs are being compared.) Because the Wikipedia statement is not verifiable and ignores the extremely different figures from multiple independent (including peer-reviewed) sources that are in relatively close agreement with each other, it may be perceived by many readers as violating Wikipedia policy regarding neutrality, especially as the extreme, unverifiable information appears to have been presented for advocacy purposes. The problematic statement should be deleted. A verifiable, neutral, substitute statement is:

" Data of a USDA study yield estimated ratios of agricultural production energy input to gross energy output in meat ranging from about 2.5:1 to 5.6:1, for various US beef production systems (Heitschmidt et al. 1996. J. Anim. Sci. 74: 1395-1405). [The agricultural production energy includes human (labor) energy, energy use embedded in purchased inputs and energy used in agricultural operations and transportation, etc. ] Meat is valued for more than energy, being also a source of protein (including essential amino acids), vitamin B12, human-absorbable iron, zinc and other minerals, etc. In addition to food, several other outputs are yielded by the input: leather, pharmaceuticals, stearate, bone products, industrially useful non-meat protein from hooves, etc. The fertilizer produced from abbatoir tankage must also be recognized as an important output: between 43 and 88 MJ of energy per kg of nitrogen would be used in production of synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers to replace it (Shapouri et al. 2002. USDA Agricultural Economic Report 814). These are among considerations appropriate in considering the efficiency of energy use in beef cattle production. " Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Efficiency of Production versus Harvesting[edit]

Immediately following the problematic sentence containing alleged energy input:output ratios, the article contains the sentence: "The result is that producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the direct harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits for human consumption." An appropriate comparison would be producing vs. producing, or harvesting vs. harvesting, not producing vs. harvesting. The article provides no evidence of relative efficiency of either harvesting or production of the listed non-animal-based foods. In addition, if one wishes to make a case regarding relative efficiency based on comparisons of energy input per unit output, it will be necessary to consider all the useful outputs, not just protein energy, and it will be appropriate to specify that the reference is only to efficiency of energy use (which may differ greatly from economic efficiency, labor efficiency, etc.). The quoted sentence should be either deleted or else amended (for purposes of meaningful comparison) with accompaniment by a verifiable supporting citation. Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Fossil fuel and Energy Use[edit]

The article states: "In America, more than one-third of the fossil fuels produced are used to raise animals for food. " The cited source, which appears to be a blog, does not indicate where that figure came from. The statement is unverifiable, being an egregious exaggeration. Note the Wikipedia verifiability precept that "Any exceptional claim requires multiple high-quality sources." Moreover, US fossil fuel production is less relevant than consumption, because 31 percent of fossil fuel energy used in the US is imported; about 83 percent of US energy use recently has been accounted for by fossil fuels (USEIA 2011. Annual energy review. U.S. Energy Information Administration. 384 pp.). Schnepf (2004. Energy use in agriculture: background and issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. 40 pp.) indicates that agricultural production (which includes livestock production) accounts for slightly less than 2 percent of US energy use. Data of Canning et al. (2010) appear consistent with this figure. The erroneous statement should be deleted. A possible substitute sentence, containing verifiable information, is:

"Data of a USDA study indicate that about 0.9 percent of energy use in the United States is accounted for by raising food-producing livestock and poultry. In this context, energy use includes energy from fossil, nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, technological solar, and wind sources. The estimated energy use in agricultural production includes embodied energy in purchased inputs. (Canning, P., A. Charles, S. Huang, K. R. Polenske, and A Waters. 2010. Energy use in the U. S. food system. USDA Economic Research Service, ERR-94. 33 pp.)." Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Percentage of land "devoted to" raising livestock[edit]

The article alleges that 30 percent of the earth's land is "devoted to" raising livestock, but neither this information nor identification of its source appears to be retrievable currently on the website cited. Assuming about 149 million square km of land on the planet, 30 percent does not appear to match FAOSTAT data that might indicate land used for raising livestock. FAOSTAT data are arguably the best global data available relevant to that topic. Also, use of the phrase "devoted to" may be problematic. [One dictionary definition of "devoted to" is "dedicated exclusively to a purpose or use". Much land subject to grazing use is not exclusively dedicated to grazing of livestock, and some of this land is deliberately managed for multiple uses (as mandated by law in some jurisdictions).] The statement should be removed from Wikipedia unless the source of the information is available for examination and proves to be a "reliable" source, in the sense involved in Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Runoff (sic)[edit]

The Wikipedia article states "Further, perennial crops used to feed humans absorb five to seven times more runoff from storms than animal feed crops." From information in the blog cited as an information source for this, it is evident that the blog refers to the study of Bharati et al. (2002. Agroforestry Systems 56: 249-257), of Iowa State University. Results of that study are misrepresented by the Wikipedia statement. Using double ring infiltrometry, the study compared water infiltration into soil (not runoff absorption by crops) for riparian buffers, and for pasture containing grazed perennial grasses (i.e. perennial forage crops used to feed livestock, not humans) versus land growing corn and soybeans. End use of the latter crops was not indicated. [Nearly 30 percent of US corn grain production is for ethanol, some (i.e. sweet corn) is for direct human consumption, some other corn is used for food products consumed by humans (corn oil, corn sugar); most of the remainder is fed to livestock. Corn stover is also often fed to livestock, converting a non-food material to food. Oil (for cooking, food products, biodiesel, etc.) is commonly extracted from soybeans before the remaining material, including human-inedible hulls, is used for livestock feed.] (Verifiable sources can be identified for the preceding statements in square brackets.) Results of Bharati et al. pertain to the Coland soil series, a fine-loamy Cumulic Endoaquoll, developed on a floodplain. Because infiltration characteristics would be expected to differ among soils with different profile development derived from different parent materials, it is inappropriate to represent specific quantitative infiltration results from the Coland series as if they were broadly applicable regardless of soil taxon. The statement in the Wikipedia entry fails to conform to Wikipedia policy regarding verifiability, as it is not supported by a reliable source. Although the above-quoted statement should be deleted, there would not be a problem with factual presentation of results and environmental implications of the research by Bharati et al. in the Wikipedia article. A verifiable statement would be:

"The ability of soil to absorb water by infiltration is important for minimizing runoff and soil erosion. Researchers in Iowa reported that a soil under perennial pasture grasses grazed by livestock was able to absorb far more water than the same kind of soil under two annual crops: corn and soybeans (Bharati et al. 2002. Agroforestry Systems 56: 249-257). Corn and soybean crops commonly provide food for human consumption, biofuels, livestock feed, or some combination of these." Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)


US per capita meat consumption[edit]

The article states that "the average American consumes 97 pounds of beef (and 273 pounds of meat in all) each year", citing a paper written by persons having no academic credentials pertinent to the topic, and who cite no source for their figure. Consequently, that paper does not qualify as a reliable source. Neither the cited paper nor the Wikipedia article states whether the figures pertain to bone-in retail cuts or boneless equivalent or carcass equivalent or something else. However, specification is important, because of large quantitative differences among these different bases of data expression. For example, for statistical purposes since 1995, USDA has estimated boneless beef weight at 0.669 of carcass weight. A verifiable statement that specifies what is meant by meat consumption is:

"In 2007, US per capita beef consumption was 62.2 pounds per year, and US per capita meat (red meat plus fish plus poultry) consumption totaled 200.7 pounds, boneless trimmed weight basis, according to Table 13-7 of USDA (2010. Agricultural Statistics 2010. 505 pp.). " Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Grain and Beef[edit]

The article states "To produce 1 pound of feedlot beef requires about 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain (42)." Although the statement has been widely repeated (mostly in in anti-meat advocacy), it should be removed from the Wikipedia article, because the grain figure appears to lack verifiability. (Note the Wikipedia verifiability precept that "Any exceptional claim requires multiple high-quality sources.") The statement appears to come from a paper (Horrigan et al. 2002) that did not undergo competent peer review on agricultural matters, written by persons lacking academic credentials in agricultural sciences, who misunderstood the problematic feed data they used [the meaning of which is explicit in Brown (2004)] and failed to do elementary fact-checking before presenting the information. The original figure indicated by their data source, which relates only to gain while the animal is in the feedlot, is not supported by a very large number of reliable sources [i.e. data of US National Research Council (2000. Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle. National Academy Press), data in numerous peer-reviewed research papers, data in several university extension bulletins). The discrepancy might have resulted from a mistaken assumption that all feedlot feed is grain, but might also reflect assumptions regarding moisture content of grain, which affects grain weight. Considering (a) US figures for weights of beef cattle entering and leaving feedlots, (b) the roughage content of US feedlot diets (from USDA feedlot survey data), (c) National Research Council data relating feed and metabolizable energy intake to beef cattle weight gain, and (d) USDA data on recovery of retail beef cuts from liveweight, the apparently unverifiable grain figure quoted above appears too high to be representative of beef finished in feedlots (although one may find some cases where it applies). Also, feedlot beef represents only some fraction of beef production. In the US, for example, a considerable fraction of beef is derived from cull cows that are not feedlot stock. [According to USDA data, 19 percent of US commercial beef slaughter in 2010 consisted of cull cows, i.e. 6.5 million head out of 34.2 million head; however, only about 0.5 percent of feedlot cattle are cows and bulls. References for these figures are http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ldp/LDGTables.htm, SlaughterCounts (Excel file); and USDA APHIS. 2000. Feedlot '99. Part I. Feedlot Management Practices. 24 pp.]. USDA (2010 Agricultural Statistics) data (supplemented by USDA and U. Minn. data on grain in rations of poultry and lactating dairy cows, respectively) indicate how grain consumption by US livestock is partitioned among meat-, milk- and egg-producing livestock and poultry; the data suggest that US grain consumption by meat-producing animals (including meat-producing poultry) amounts to about 2.75 pounds of grain per pound of carcass meat produced. More broadly applicable estimates of grain use in meat production are found in the 1999 CAST report, which provides information on how its estimates were derived. For developed countries, the estimated average pounds of grain use per pound of carcass meat produced are beef: 2.6; pork: 3.7; poultry: 2.2, and sheep and goat: 0.8. For developing countries, the estimates are beef: 0.3; pork: 1.8; poultry: 1.2, and sheep and goat: 0.3. The CAST figures for developed countries, weighted according to recent per capita consumption of boneless beef (plus veal), pork, poultry and lamb in the US (USDA 2010 Agricultural Statistics, Table 13-7), would yield an estimate of about 2.72 pounds of grain fed to meat-producing livestock per pound of carcass meat in the US. This result is remarkably consistent with the above independent estimate that was based on recent USDA and U. Minn. figures. The problematic Wikipedia statement quoted above should be deleted. A verifiable statement regarding grain use in beef production is:

"For developed countries, a CAST report estimates an average of 2.6 pounds of grain fed per pound of beef carcass meat produced. For developing countries, the estimate is 0.3 pounds per pound. (Some very dissimilar figures are sometimes seen; the CAST report discusses common sources of error and discrepancies among such figures.) (Bradford, E. et al. 1999. Animal Agriculture and Global Food Supply. Council on Agricultural Science and Technology. 92 pp.). "Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Methane[edit]

The article makes a point of methane being a greenhouse gas with a GWP (global warming potential) of 21. Unless accompanied by other information, it might lead a reader to misunderstand the significance of methane emissions associated with livestock production (and other anthropogenic sources) in relation to global warming. Methane contributes to global warming only when its atmospheric concentration rises. Although methane from anthropogenic sources has contributed substantially to past warming, it is of much lesser significance for current and recent warming. This is because there has been relatively little increase in atmospheric methane concentration in recent years (Dlugokencky et al. 1998. Nature 393: 447-450; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007. Fourth Assessment Report; Rigby et al. 2008. Geophys. Res. Letters, vol. 35, L22805, doi:10.1029/2008GL036037; Dlugokencky et al. 2011. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. 369: 2058-2072). The anomalous increase in methane concentration in 2007, discussed by Rigby et al., has since been attributed principally to anomalous methane flux from natural wetlands, mostly in the tropics, rather than to anthropogenic sources (Bousquet et al. 2011. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 11: 3689-3700). Also, note that, although the GWPs of 21 (methane) and 296 (nitrous oxide) are still used in national GHG source and sink inventories because of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (in order to facilitate comparisons between different years), these figures from the IPCC Second Assessment Report have since been modified, being somewhat higher currently (as noted in the Fourth Assessment Report); also, for completeness, it should be stated that these are 100-year GWPs. Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Environmental Benefits of Livestock Production[edit]

Partly because of failing to acknowledge environmental benefits of livestock production, the Wikipedia article lacks neutrality.

There are environmental benefits of meat-producing small ruminants for control of specific invasive or noxious weeds (such as spotted knapweed, tansy ragwort, leafy spurge, yellow starthistle, tall larkspur, etc.) on rangeland. Small ruminants are also useful for vegetation management in forest plantations, and for clearing brush on rights-of-way, These are food-producing alternatives to herbicide use. There are numerous peer-reviewed references on these uses, many of which are cited in Launchbaugh, K. (ed.) (2006. Targeted Grazing: a natural approach to vegetation management and landscape enhancement. American Sheep Industry. 199 pp.). Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

By converting human-inedible residues to food, a significant fraction of the livestock industry in North America and elsewhere avoids waste that could have environmentally problematic implications.

  • Elferink et al. (2008. J. Cleaner Prod. 16: 1227-1233) state that "Currently, 70 % of the feedstock used in the Dutch feed industry originates from the food processing industry." (The source cited for this by Elferink et al. is Agricultural-Economics Research Institute & Central Bureau of Statistics. Land- en tuinbouwcijfers 2005.)
  • US examples of residue conversion with regard to grain include feeding livestock the distillers grains remaining from biofuel production. [Considering the magnitude of US corn production for ethanol in recent years, this has great quantitative importance. For the marketing year 2009/2010, the amount of dried distillers grains used as livestock feed (and residual) in the US amounted to 25.0 million metric tons (Hoffman, L. and A. Baker. 2010. Market issues and prospects for U.S. distillers' grains supply, use, and price relationships. USDA FDS-10k-01). ]
  • Much soy meal used as livestock feed is prepared from material left after extraction of the soybean oil used in foods and in production of biodiesel, soaps and industrial fatty acids. (Soybean is the principal oilseed used for biodiesel production in North America.)
  • Similarly, canola meal for livestock feed is produced from material left after oil extraction (for food and biodiesel) from canola seed. (Canola is the principal oilseed used for biodiesel production in Europe.)
  • Examples with regard to roughages include straw from barley and wheat crops (feedable especially to large-ruminant breeding stock when on maintenance diets, but also sometimes used in TMR feeds for other livestock), corn stover, and other crop residues. Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Wildlife diversity may be enhanced and maintained by grazing livestock in some places while excluding livestock in some places. A survey of refuge managers on 123 National Wildlife Refuges in the US tallied 86 species of wildlife considered positively affected and 82 considered negatively affected by refuge cattle grazing or haying (Strassman. 1987. Environmental Mgt. 11: 35-44). The kind of grazing system employed (e.g. rest-rotation, deferred grazing, HILF grazing) is often important in achieving grazing benefits for particular wildlife species (Holechek et al. 1982. Wildlife Soc. Bull. 10:204-210). Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Grazing and Erosion[edit]

The article states "Furthermore, cattle are a known cause for soil erosion through trampling of the ground and overgrazing. " However, in its context, this statement is misleading, because production of crops for direct human consumption also can lead to soil erosion, and consequently, some comparison would be appropriate. Permanent pasture and range together amount to 43.1 percent and total cropland amounts to about 44.1 percent of US census farmland (USDA. 2009. 2007 Census of Agriculture. United States Summary and State Data. Vol. 1. Geographic Area Series. Part 51. AC-07-A-51. 639 pp. + appendices). On US non-federal pastureland in 2007, estimated average soil losses by sheet and rill erosion and by wind erosion were 0.8 and 0.1 tons per acre per year, respectively. In contrast, on US cropland, estimated average soil losses by sheet and rill erosion and by wind erosion were 2.7 and 2.1 tons per acre per year, respectively. The percentage of inventoried land for which wind erosion was within estimated soil loss tolerance was 99.4 for pastureland and 86.9 for cropland. The percentage of inventoried land for which sheet and rill erosion was within estimated soil loss tolerance was 95.1 for pastureland and 84.0 for cropland. These erosion data are from NRCS (2009). Thus, a verifiable statement providing neutrality by means of comparison would be:

"On US farmland, much less soil erosion is associated with pastureland used for livestock grazing than with land used for production of crops (NRCS. 2009. Summary report 2007 national resources inventory. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 123 pp. )" Schafhirt (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2012 (UTC)


This is because removing a plant from a field removes all the nutrients it obtained from the soil, while removing an animal leaves the field intact - really? so removing the animal has zero effect? what does that animal eat by the way? 70.114.182.157 (talk) 18:16, 12 December 2015 (UTC)

File:Sources of dietary energy-consumtion (%) 2001-2003 (FAO).svg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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Environmental Impact of meat production[edit]

The article states "According to Livestock’s Long Shadow, an FAO report, the meat industry contributes about 18 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions." This misrepresents the report, which actually attributes this figure to the global livestock sector (including poultry), not just the meat industry. The livestock sector (including poultry) provides draft animal power, leather, wool, milk, eggs, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, etc., in addition to meat. Schafhirt (talk) 21:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Referring to carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, the article states, with no supporting citation: "The livestock industry is a major contributor of these gases through fossil fuel use." However, according to USDA figures, livestock production is estimated to account for only about 0.9 percent of US non-solar energy use, of which about 85 percent is accounted for by fossil fuels. This alone is enough to show that livestock production is a relatively minor contributor of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions from fossil fuel use even in the US, where fossil fuel use per unit agricultural production is higher than in many other countries. The above-quoted erroneous statement should be deleted. Schafhirt (talk) 21:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

The article states "More than half the world's crops are used to feed animals." The cited source does not support the statement. It simply says "much of the world's crops". Schafhirt (talk) 21:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

The article states, with no supporting citation, "A person existing chiefly on animal protein requires 10 times more land to provide adequate food than someone living on vegetable sources of protein." According to USDA Agricultural Statistics 2010, red meat, poultry and fish accounted for only 15.2 percent of US human dietary energy in 2005, and less than half of US per capita protein intake is animal protein. It seems likely that only very few people, if any, exist chiefly on animal protein. Even a subset of hunter-gatherers with a predominantly meat diet is likely to subsist substantially on animal fat, in addition to animal protein. (Consider, for example, USDA data on fat and protein contents of trimmed boneless meats, and the food energy contents of animal fat and protein.) Moreover, because of limited food animal population densities in nature, compared with intensively farmed systems, the land area requirement for food production for a hunter-gatherer would be expected to exceed greatly that of a meat-eating person fed from productive farmland. Because the above-quoted statement involves an apparently unrealistic comparison, and because the area ratio is presumably a matter of guesswork involving undisclosed assumptions regarding the food production systems being compared, and because no supporting citation is given, the statement should be deleted. Schafhirt (talk) 21:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Livestock and grain[edit]

The article states: "Cornell scientists have advised that the U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, although they distinguish "grain-fed meat production from pasture-raised livestock, calling cattle-grazing a more reasonable use of marginal land." In fact, the cited source, a press release, attributes this to only one person, D. Pimentel, not to multiple Cornell scientists, and it refers specifically to grain fed to US livestock. It does not indicate whether the term "livestock" is used in the broad sense, to include poultry, or in the narrower sense common in many sources, which distinguishes livestock from poultry. Table 1-75 of USDA Agricultural Statistics 2010 indicates that grain fed to US livestock and poultry in 2010 amounted to 154.1 million tons, of which 91.8 percent was corn. Assuming an average food energy content of about 3.6 Mcal/kg for US feed grain (based on corn data of USDA Agric. Handbook 74), this would amount to about 504 billion Mcal for the year. Divided among 800 million people, this is an allocation of about 1,730 kcal per day per capita. This falls far short of the 1997-99 FAO estimate of per capita food energy consumption for sub-Saharan Africa (about 2,195 kcal per day), and is even farther below the global per capita average (2,803 kcal per day). (These FAO estimates can be found at http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/005/AC911E/ac911e05.htm .) Clearly, the energy contained in the grain fed to US livestock is far less than the food energy requirement of 800 million people in a population with typical statistical distributions of age, sex and activity level. Perhaps the statement involves a calculation error, or there may be unstated assumptions about supplementary energy and nutrient sources, in addition to grain, feeding the 800 million. (There is evidence of calculation error elsewhere in the cited source.) In the absence of clarity on this matter, the statement appears misleading. If there is no independent confirmation of the figure and no indication of underlying assumptions, the statement should be deleted from the Wikipedia article. Note Wikipedia's verifiability precept that "Any exceptional claim requires multiple high-quality sources. Schafhirt (talk) 21:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Add info[edit]

See Talk:Environmental_impact_of_meat_production#Livestock_Farming_Systems_and_their_Environmental_Impacts — Preceding unsigned comment added by 91.182.79.223 (talk) 14:14, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Environmental vegetarianism. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers.—cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 06:37, 21 March 2016 (UTC)