Cowspiracy is one of my favourite documentaries surrounding a reason to quit eating meat. The premise doesn’t centre around graphic images of factory farming like you would expect from the title, but rather the disappointing truth of what animal agriculture is doing to the planet.
The documentary, executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio by the way, covers the effects animal agriculture has on water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, forest depletion, species extinction, water pollution, and ocean dead-zones. Don’t believe me? Turn on your Netflix and give it a watch right now.
Cowspiracy is the type of documentary that once you watch it you immediately think to yourself wow, why didn’t I ever think of this? The problem is so dead obvious that once it’s pointed out to you, you can’t help but shake your head.
If you are feeling skeptical because you’ve never heard of this before, this is your opportunity to realize how much power a trillion dollar industry really has over you. Take the chance to expand your understanding.
The facts covered in the film can be found neatly organised on the official website. I will cover some of the big ones here, so if you don’t have time to watch the documentary you can continue reading or go to the Cowspiracy facts page. Now, no excuses!
Let’s begin with water. The documentary shows you how if you are really concerned with reducing your water consumption, the answer is not to run the tap less. It’s to cut down your meat consumption. Let’s use cows as an example. Consider the amount of water it takes to grow grain. Then, consider the amount of grain and drinking water a cow will consume in its lifetime before becoming meat. This works out to a conservative estimate of 2,500 gallons of water used to create only 1 lb of beef. The same works for 1 lb of eggs (approx. 477 gallons), 1 lb of cheese (approx. 900 gallons) or 1 gallon of milk (approx. 1,000 gallons). Compare this to the average American 17.2 gallon shower (Source: Home Water Works).
Have you ever considered how much land the meat industry takes up? It’s a whopping 1/3 of the planet’s ice-free land. And that’s just livestock and feed, once you bring into consideration the 7,000,000 lbs of livestock fecal matter produced every minute in the US alone, you can’t help but wonder where it all goes.
Which brings us to my absolute favourite quote of the film that sums everything up into a simple, easy to understand sentence:
“Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq. ft. of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.”
If that sentence alone doesn’t bring you to consider rethinking your personal meat consumption, I don’t know what will.