climate change / Environment / Vegetarian

A Quick Thought on Flatulence

People often wonder why I am vegetarian. So, to answer the FAQ: my main reason is flatulence (but not mine!….)

Cows, pigs, and other livestock that are grown for us to eat – well, they fart/poot/break wind/cut the cheese/let ‘er rip a ton. Gigatons in fact. Livestock is responsible for up to 60% of methane emissions.

And even before they started tooting around the fields, and wafting their methane up to the high heavens, forests were cleared for them to graze – so less air cleansing by trees, less water being absorbed by land/plants and instead running straight into the ocean where we can’t use it, more soil erosion (and losing those sweet soil nutrients plants need), less cute animals keeping the web of life in balance, etc. etc. The more demand for meat products placed on the global market, the bigger hole we are digging ourselves into environmentally.

Now, I’m not saying stop eating meat – that’s not my jam. I’m just saying…. We should all definitely eat less. Less demand for meat means less animal farts. Less animal farts mean less methane emissions. Less emissions means less impact on climate change. Less impact on climate change means a happier planet!

Morale of the story: Do your part – reduce cow farts.

(Image copyright: Billy Goat Tavern)

(Image copyright: Billy Goat Tavern)


3 thoughts on “A Quick Thought on Flatulence

  1. Would be interesting to compare the wandering buffalo and bison that were prevalend on the Canadian and American plains and huge herds of animals in africa that wandered the grasslands. Would really appreciate your thoughts.

    Thanks, Susan

    • Interesting thought Susan! I’m not sure if there are any stats on other historical large animal populations, but a brief thought would be that those were likely much smaller populations of wild animals, and were probably kept in check by all of nature’s balances (disease, resources, environmental conditions, etc.). I don’t imagine that they would reach the vast numbers of livestock produced purely for human consumption these days – so, still emitting the methane, but not quite like it’s happening artificially now.

  2. Definitely worth investigating what the historical numbers of grazers might have been at different time periods in North America and Africa, and how that compares to the current numbers with domestication + feed lots. We tend to assume that native species had giant herds before modern times, but at least in Africa, where humans or human ancestors have hunted for 2-3 million years, and lions were formerly much more abundant, its likely that herds of wildebeest (for example) are actually larger now than ever before. Estimating specific numbers, and their CH3 emissions would be interesting though. Important to not forget that humans are a part, not separate, from the ecosystem when determining ‘natural’ states!

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