Disregard Dublin Declaration’s Dangerous Promotion of Animal Agriculture
Please disregard the recent statement by the group Dublin Declaration that is promoting the falsehood that animal agriculture is beneficial to environmental and human health. This is misinformation and must be addressed.
When it comes to the environment, experts agree that a plant-based diet is best for the planet.
Large-scale livestock operations require vast amounts of water, mainly to irrigate the grains and grasses for feed, plus water for drinking and processing. It is much more efficient in terms of water use to grow crops for people to eat directly. According to the Guardian, growing vegetables uses about 322 liters of water per kilogram, while it takes about 15,415 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of beef.
Producing beef and other animal products is also a major contributor to the climate crisis. A report from the United Nations Environment Programme says that “animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives.”
Research shows that animal products contribute the most global greenhouse gas emissions from food production, with beef ranking the worst. In fact, the world’s top five meat and dairy corporations are now responsible for more annual greenhouse gas emissions than Exxon, Shell, or BP.
Why are meat and dairy so bad for greenhouse emissions? Cattle produce methane as part of their normal digestive process, called enteric fermentation. When cows burp, the methane is released into the atmosphere. In the United States, enteric fermentation is responsible for 25% of methane emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Methane is also produced when animal manure is stored or managed in lagoons or holding tanks. These same tanks also pollute the air and water of nearby communities.
“Reducing livestock herds would … reduce emissions of methane, which is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide,” according to the World Health Organization.
Experts say that cutting emissions from methane, which is relatively short-lived but has around 80 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide, is critical in preventing catastrophic climate change.
Swapping beef for beans could help the United States reach targeted greenhouse gas emission reductions, according to one study. Researchers compared simulated net emissions of legume production, subtracted those from average beef production rates, and used U.S. reduction goals for 2020 as a reference. Based on the results, legume substitution could account for 46-74% of the required reductions.
Manure pileup at a large goat farm in Taiwan. Video Credit – Kelly Guerin/ We Animals Media
Thirty-three thousand chickens raised for meat live tightly packed together, cramped inside a shed on an industrial broiler chicken farm. The farm has slated these 33-day-old chickens to be rounded up for slaughter that evening. Sub-Saharan Africa, 2022. Image Credit – Jo-Anne McArthur/ We Animals MediaTrading beef for beans—and other plant proteins—also benefits human health. The United Nations says that beans “are packed with nutrients and have a high protein content, making them an ideal source of protein.” For example, 1 cup of boiled lentils provides 17.9 grams of protein, 1 cup of boiled chickpeas provides 14.5 grams, and 1 cup of boiled black beans provides 15.2 grams.
Protein—an important nutrient that helps build, maintain, and repair body tissue—is widely available in beans, vegetables, and grains. The average woman needs about 46 grams of protein per day; the average man, about 56. Research shows that most Americans already get more than enough protein. It’s easy to get all the protein you need without eating meat, dairy, or eggs.
It was once thought that various plant foods had to be eaten together to get their full protein value, otherwise known as protein combining or protein complementing. We now know that intentional combining is not necessary to obtain all of the essential amino acids. All plant foods contain all nine essential amino acids just in varying amounts. Protein requirements are easily met with a diet rich in grains, legumes, and vegetables.
Picking plant protein instead of animal protein could also save your life. In 2016, Harvard researchers proved this when they followed 131,342 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, watching what they ate and tracking their health. What they found turned the nutrition world on its head.
It turned out that the more animal protein the research participants ate, the more likely they were to die of heart disease or stroke. That was the case for fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, as well as red meat. Plant proteins, on the other hand, reduced the risk of dying. To the extent people replaced animal protein with plant protein, they were less likely to die. In other words, animal protein is not superior to plant protein at all—just the opposite. It presents real health drawbacks. Since then, research continues to show the benefits of plant protein over animal protein.
Besides protein, a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans provides all of the nutrients you need, with the addition of a vitamin B12 supplement. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that is necessary for healthy nerves and blood. It is not made by plants or by animals, but by bacteria.
Evidence-based science clearly demonstrates that a plant-based diet is best for humans, the planet, and animals, too.
Editor’s Note: For those averse to taking supplements, Vitamin B12 can also be found in some other vegetable sources. Store-bought vegan yogurt of some types (check the label), as well as homemade yogurt using soymilk (Silk’s soymilks are fortified with B12 and other minerals to match milk) or other plant milks that are fortified with, or high in, vitamin B12, homemade saurkraut or other pickles can also be a good source of this critical vitamin. Consuming cultured products can also encourage a healthy microbiome, which can protect you against many diseases. Learn more by checking out the interview with Dr. Christine Bishara on the importance of gut microbiome on viral resistance. Solgar’s Brewer’s yeast tablets contain more than the US RDA of Vitamin B12, and fortified nutritional yeast powders contain added B12, as an alternative to vitamin supplements. Always check the label to find out how much they contain.
Visit PCRM.org to learn more about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet and for delicious plant-based recipes.
Banner Image: Stop Factory Farms protest. Image Credit – Jorge Maya