Check out this article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet
The reasons are multi-layered, but one is this:
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.
That is incredible!! I always knew that it took more resources to produce meat for consumption, but I didn’t realize the extent. Check out these numbers from Cornell University:
Depending on the type of meat, it takes 6-17 times more land to feed the average American meat eater than to feed a vegetarian. L. Reijinders and Sam Soret, PhDs 2003.
‘The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States (1997) consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population.
More than 302 million hectares of land are devoted to producing feed for the U.S. livestock population — about 272 million hectares in pasture and about 30 million hectares for cultivated feed grains.
Total Acre Usage in the United States: (and this is from several years ago- I can only imagine that it is more now)
Total dried beans and peas 2,140,851
Total sugar 2,172,550
= 12,748,605 acres; (* 0.4047) = 5,159,360 hectares.
Orchards, vineyards, and nursery 4,462,591 acres
(= 1,806,010 hectares)
6 million hectares grain (based on the above from Cornell).
Total: 12,965,370 hectares, round to 13 million hectares.
Vs. 302 million hectares used to feed livestock.
This, among several other reasons is why I have committed to go 99% vegan in 2012. I have done it before, and am returning to this path for conscious, for health and for the planet. No meat. No dairy. Eggs only from my own happy chickens, Rosie & Red. I’m excited to take this journey with my family.