Question: Does eating meat destroy the rainforest? How does meat consumption contribute to rainforest depletion?
Answer: The United States imports roughly 200 million pounds of beef from Central America every year. Aside from the fuel used in transport, grazing land is needed for all of these animals. Where does all that land come from in a densely forested region? The answer: from clear-cutting forests and rainforest. A Smithsonian study estimates that the necessity for more grazing land means that every minute of every day, a land area equivalent to seven football fields is destroyed in the Amazon basin(1).
For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.
And its not just the rainforest.
In the United States, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture (2). With increased per capita meat consumption, and an ever growing population, we can only expect to see more deforestation in the future.
If you're concerned about how your diet affects rainforest depletion, but you still like eating meat, have you tried vegetarian meat substitutes?
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(1)Smithsonian Institution, "Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating," Science Daily Online, 15 Jan. 2002. (2)Earth Talk, "The Environmental Beef With Meat," The Bay Weekly, 6 Jan. 2005.