Quantcast

The Shocking Consequences of the World's Meat Addiction

Food

More than 9 billion animals are slaughtered in the U.S. every year for meat with global demand skyrocketing. Animal agriculture is putting an ever-increasing strain on world resources, particularly global water supplies, according to VICE's two-part episode, Meathooked and End of Water, which premieres March 4 at 11 p.m. on HBO.

VICE correspondent Isobel Yeung traveled to a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in Goias, Brazil to see firsthand how cattle are raised for slaughter. Photo credit: HBO

In Vice's fifth episode of season 4, Isobel Yeung traveled to feedlots, farms and slaughterhouses to learn where our meat comes from and to uncover its true costs, and Vikram Gandhi traveled to the Central Valley in California and São Paulo, Brazil to find out just how severe the global water crisis has become.

In California's Central Valley, farmers are quickly depleting the state's groundwater as the state remains mired in a drought, despite El Niño rains. São Paulo's drought has become so bad that water in at least one of the area's reservoirs is below what engineers consider zero, meaning that they have to pipe the remaining water uphill just to get it to the intake pipes.

Tulare County farmer Mark Watte shows VICE correspondent Vikram Gandhi the effects the California drought has had on his crops. Photo credit: HBO

"Meat production, globally, is an environmental disaster now," Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, said. "If we try and expand production to reach 9 billion people by 2050, it will be a complete and unthinkable disaster."

"Let's assume the population will reach 9 billion by 2050," Cook said. "There isn't enough land, there isn't enough water, there isn't the capacity for the Earth's atmosphere to absorb all of the CO2 and the methane that would come out of animal agriculture. The problem is that our focus is on making the meat as cheap as possible, and as they cut those corners, that's where we often have environmental catastrophes."

But there are agricultural innovators hoping to change the way we raise animals for food. Yeung met with Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Virginia. Salatin uses a sustainable system of raising animals called "rotational grazing."

Young also met with Dr. Mark Post, professor of physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, to discuss his work on creating the first synthetic burger. He has grown meat in a lab from stem cells in just seven weeks—"much, much faster" than raising a cow for slaughter, he noted. The first trial cost $325,000, but he hopes to grow it cheaper and faster soon.

Watch a preview of the episode here:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Nation’s First Vegan-Certified Farm Is Booming in Philly

Iceland’s Fin Whale Hunt Cancelled for 2016

Humpback Whale Entangled in Illegal Gillnet Saved by Sea Shepherd Crew

Organic Milk and Meat Is Healthier for You, Scientists Say

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Chinese cobra (Naja atra) with hood spread. Briston / Wikimedia, CC BY-SA

By Haitao Guo, Guangxiang "George" Luo and Shou-Jiang Gao

Snakes – the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra – may be the original source of the newly discovered coronavirus that has triggered an outbreak of a deadly infectious respiratory illness in China this winter.

Read More
Coca-Cola says it will not phase out its plastic bottles. Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket / Getty Images

Despite its status as the world's No. 1 corporate plastic polluter, Coca-Cola won't be phasing out its single-use plastic bottles anytime soon.

Read More
Sponsored
Myakka River State Park outside of Sarasota, Florida on Dec. 30, 2016. The park is a small preserve of rare protected habitat along Florida's Gulf Coast, a region that has seen intense development and population growth. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

Today, the Trump administration will finalize its replacement for the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in a move that will strip protections from more than half of the nation's wetlands and allow landowners to dump pesticides into waterways, or build over wetlands, for the first time in decades.

Read More
"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More