Cowspiracy: Is Animal Agriculture Destroying the Earth?

Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

We’ve all heard it on the news, in our classrooms, plastered all over social media: the earth is in trouble. Words like global warming, fossil fuels and greenhouse gases have become household terms.

The sad fact is that the biggest threat to our world isn’t the deforestation of the Amazon, or the shortage of clean water, or the greenhouse gases emitted from our cars.

It’s a threat the average person hasn’t seen coming, as even the major environmental groups neglect to discuss it: the fact that animal agriculture is slowly destroying the earth.

This is the premise of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

I consider myself a fairly environmentally aware person. Still, this documentary blew my mind. And that’s because, as Cowspiracy shows, no one is talking about it.

Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, the men behind the documentary, interviewed farmers, the leaders of environmental organizations, environmentalist authors and even vegan doctors to try to discover why the issue was being so neglected.

Without giving too much away, this a short list of the major facts they discovered:

  1. Livestock and their byproducts are the leading cause of global greenhouse gas emission.
  2. Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon deforestation.
  3. The water used to produce one hamburger is equal to 660 gallons of water. That is equivalent to showering for two months straight.
  4. Livestock covers 41% of land on earth.
  5. The land required to feed one vegan for one year is 1/6th acre. A meat eater requires 18 times that.

I’m not going to reveal the rest of the film because I so strongly believe that each person should watch it for him or herself. However, I will share with you one part of the documentary that has stuck with me.

While interviewing a man who raises his own poultry, Andersen witnessed the interviewee chop off the head of one of the ducks.

Afterward, a shellshocked Andersen responded, “I just don’t think I could do that. And if I can’t do it myself, I don’t want someone else doing it for me.”

As a vegetarian, these words struck a chord with me. He put words to my feelings about eating meat: I couldn’t do it myself, and if I can’t do it myself, I don’t want anyone else doing it for me.

Before I was a vegetarian, I distanced myself from the meat that I was eating. I was able to “forget” that my food had once been a living, breathing animal.

Because of this documentary, I’ve decided to begin the process of going vegan. When confronted with the facts of how my diet can have an impact on the earth, no matter how small my individual impact may be, I know I can’t be content with simply not eating meat.

Cowspiracy opened my eyes to the threat animal agriculture poses to our world. I seriously encourage every person who has access to Netflix to watch this documentary.