However, this is not without consequence. In the 2011 report, livestock contributed to an estimated 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main contributors to global warming. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s methane and 65 percent of the world’s nitrous oxide are due to the production of livestock. These percentages are only likely to grow as we continue to see a demand for more meat.
Another concern is the growing amount of antibiotics being introduced into the environment, which contaminate water and food crops. In fact, 80 percent of antibiotics in 2009 were sold for use on livestock. Only 20 percent of sales were for human illness.
There are some ways that you can make a difference. For one, support pastoral systems over industrial feedlots. Pasture-raised animals can help to improve carbon sequestration. You can also opt for organic meats, which have not been subjected to antibiotics or other dangerous chemicals that affect us and the environment.