How to Save the Environment



I previously summarized livestock’s detrimental effect on the environment. I will now consider how best to save the environment.


“A problem well stated – is a problem half-solved.” (Charles Kettering)

The livestock sector (the industrial production of animal foods and products) – is an increasing major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, land degradation, climate change and the dissipation of biodiversity on the planet. This is more elaborately summarized in my previous post: How Livestock Effect the Environment. If you have not done so already, please read it to get a clearer understanding of this urgent problem.

To those who do not believe livestock production has an effect on the environment, there is nothing I can say here that will convince you of this. The truth is that only those who search for this knowledge can really know of it. It is not in the forebrain of public consciousness – just like the billions of animals killed each year to satisfy our taste buds.

Given the realities of an increasing world population, rising incomes and urbanization, the demand for animal foods and products will continue to rise, and its effect on the environment will continue to worsen and put future generations in great jeopardy.

What can be done to address this problem?

We have a very important choice to make as a society. We can continue “business as usual” and ignore the effect that livestock production has on the environment, or we can do something about it. If we choose to do something about it, then we must acquire the Will to implement solutions with resolute immediacy.

Public policy and action must consider the environmental impact of all aspects of livestock production.

1. Better management of land and water resources

Consideration of the environment in choosing where to locate a livestock production facility for example. Should it be located in suitable rural areas rather than near-congested urban areas? Is there land nearby to dispose of waste without polluting waterways? Are there ways of gaining efficiencies by reducing the amount of land and water used per animal reared and killed at a livestock facility?

2. Removal of government price supports

All those government subsidies and other agricultural supports that currently exists in most industrialized countries will have to be significantly reduced or removed altogether. Imagine that! These price supports help to prop up local industries.

3. Environmental incentives and taxes

No one likes higher taxes, more rules and more regulations. More red tape or more money spent on the enforcement of new regulations. Increasing taxes and other financial incentives will be in the future of the livestock sector. Governments will have to persuade most companies to do better, most companies will not do it themselves. What about the individual citizens, us, who will demand more animal foods and products? Could demand outstrip supply?

4. Reassessing the price of water and land

This is where everybody will pay a higher price. Currently water and land are relatively cheap given the fact that both are finite resources. Imagine if the price of water and land reflected its scarcity. Imagine paying a water bill that is 10 or 50 times more than what you are paying today.

5. The Unforeseen: Technological Advancement?

Higher prices should lead to innovation and efficiencies in the area of land management and use. This is one measure that could make a huge difference, but it will bring its own “not-yet-encountered” problems. For example, smaller livestock production companies would find it very hard to compete against larger multinational corporations.

Are these solutions enough?

The solutions above are all important and can all help in reducing livestock’s detrimental impact on the environment. They all require tough decisions that will have to be made and implemented at the political level. Some will occur through market forces – as land and water resources become scarce, their monetary value will increase. This will change the landscape.

These measures, at best, will only temporarily reduce livestock’s impact on the environment. The problem will still exist. We just would have delayed the inevitable.

Challenges ahead

Civil Society seems to have an inadequate understanding of the scope of the problem. (FAO 2006 Report p282).

I believe all the society have an inadequate understanding of the scope of the problem. It is for this reason I felt compelled to write about this. I first learned about this 2006 FAO report about 6 months ago. I was shocked that this was not front page news or in the forefront of our concerns – after all – the planet’s future is perilous!

“Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.” (FAO 2006 Report, p XX)

To engage the public will be no easy task because there is not only lack of concern, but also lack of awareness. It is a shame that our focus is more on other mundane items like celebrity and consumerism.

The elephant in the room

elephant alone in the forest

At this point we must discuss the obvious solution that has yet to be highlighted. How about reducing our excessive consumption of animal foods and products? Better yet, how about eliminating animal foods from our diets and animal products from our lifestlye? Surely the best and most effective way of reducing livestock’s detrimental impact on the environment is not utilizing animal food and products in the first place!

Okay I know what some of you are thinking. “Are you saying we should go on a vegan diet?”

No, because I don’t think that is currently realistic. It is significant that those on a 100% plant based diet are on the rise because such a diet is obviously the only way of reversing livestock’s detrimental impact. People moving to a 100% plant based diet should therefore be welcomed and encouraged by all others. Additionally, there is now overwhelming evidence to support the health benefits of a vegan diet. (See my previous post: Why Become Vegan? Benefits of a Vegan Diet)

Unfortunately, capitalistic structures are driven mostly by profit ignoring how their actions affected the environment. We need to value the environment in all decisions we make and actions we take as a society. Land and water are finite resources. They are the life of the planet, as all living creatures require both to survive. How we use (or abuse) these finite resources have both near and far consequences.

Men and women have the responsibility to maintain this delicate balance between life and its finite resources. Yes, in the future, we should move toward a plant based diet and lifestyle, as this is the only way to reverse the livestock problem and save the environment.

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36 Replies to “How to Save the Environment”

  1. Edmond says:

    Thank you, Dywan for shedding light on our livestock and environment.
    Protecting the environment should be on everyone’s agenda as it is through this, that our very own life goes on.
    Landscaping and buildings are all ways that cause the majority of the damage especially from the big companies with no respect for anyone.
    Although these buildings look beautiful and provide jobs, we just destroy the shelters of these animals living them invading our homes in return.
    It just goes round and round.
    I appreciate your insightful message on this and thank you.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Thank you Edmond for your comment. We just need to consider the environmental impact on any decision we make as a society, particularly when it comes to livestock production.

  2. Fred says:

    Nice quote at the beginning and now about the problem we are facing in this entire world. It’s not just where we live it’s all over. The Government is too tied up in the might dollar and it’s not alone. The way animals are mass produce these days to feel a need is horrific. Filling them with all kinds of poison just to keep them healthy is killing us. Plant base is a solution more people should go that way, especially for health reason but not only for health reasons but for environmental reasons also. The lack of knowledge is a major contributor to this. News has to be SPREAD!

  3. Dominique says:

    This is a great post, addressing a very relevant problem the world is facing. I’m glad to see more people becoming aware of the environment and how their lifestyles impact it.
    (I love your site)

  4. Robert says:

    Very well-done post and it is a much-needed article to get out there. The government subsidizing is what has been on my mind recently. All of these unhealthful and deleterious products are subsidized, but broccoli and kale certainly are not. If anything should be, it ought to be the things healthful to the human body in order to promote healthful eating. Meanwhile, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are continuously on the rise and remain out number one killer. Something must change. May the world be educated in the power of plants. The ignorance of the public and hiding and skewing of the facts has gone on long enough. Oh, the benefits and healing power of plants! Thank you for this much-appreciated post.

  5. This is a great site addressing the issues agriculture has on our world. It is incredibly silly how water is so cheap like you said especially being a finite resource. Livestock uses so much water, we need to all move to a plant-based diet.
    I went vegan 3 years ago and the benefits are amazing, along with you know how much you are helping not only the planet but animal lives too 🙂

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Danielle. My fellow vegan. I agree it is the only solution to this problem, but whether we do it or not remains to be seen. Thanks again.

  6. Melissa says:

    Hi Dwyan, congratulations on your delightful site and inspiring messages. Whilst they may be difficult for the general public to hear and process, it’s important that these messages are out there and being discussed. We all need to play our own part here, for the benefit of not just our environment but our own physical health too. Individuals en masse can make a difference. Wonderful messages – thank you.

  7. Max says:

    I never knew about the production of animal food having a negative impact on the environment. I guess dog owners and carnivorous folks like myself is doing double the damage. I was waiting for you to recommend the vegan diet but are you implying that we should pay more for the price of water or the land we may own?

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi there Max. Regarding the water and land I was saying that as they become more and more scarce since we are using more of these resources to produce animal foods and products, the price of these scarce resources will inevitably go up. Once this happens, as it will inevitably will because many will not change their diet, then consumers will end up with this bill because the cost of animal foods and products will go up. Please see my article on How Livestock Effect the Environment to see how much devastation livestock production really is according to the United Nations and other world bodies like the World Bank.

  8. Christina says:

    I love that you’re spreading this information. I don’t think most people are truly aware about the environmental impact that factory farmed animals have on the world. Not their fault since so much of it is hidden from us.

    One of the things I’m excited about and I think will have a HUGE positive impact is lab-grown meat. (Also known as clean meat. )

    While I think it’ll take some education of the public to understand that this meat is safe (probably much, much safer than the “dirty” meat people consume now), once they are comfortable with it and it rises in popularity, I think this will be a giant win for everyone.

    People can still eat meat if they want, but animals won’t be harmed and we won’t need as many farmed animals (we won’t really need any except to extract a cell or 2 from them), which will reduce the impact on the environment. It’s really a win-win-win.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hello Christina and thanks for your comment. “clean” meat. yep! There are so many “inventions” happening nowadays where so many companies are experimenting with meat substitutes. It is a whole industry now. I remain somewhat skeptical as this is still highly processed food. But I do agree that it will still be better than what we have now — and animals and the environment won’t be harmed.

  9. serafija says:

    It doesn’t really matter where you come from. This issue on environment alone is turning into a serious matter. The environment is showing signs of fighting back. I just had a conversation with a climate changing expert, and the current signs shed dark clouds ahead.
    I totally agree that we do need to take the seriousness of our lifestyles and the effects of it on our surroundings, but this also raises the issues on how slow the process takes for specific bio-friendly regulations to come into fruition.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Serafin. A good observation by you. We can change. All we need is the “will” to change! If the problems are real then it will only be a matter of time before we will be forced to change and recognize that we must consider the food we eat and the impact on the environment.

  10. Eric Cantu says:

    Very well written article. I think sometimes the problems and struggles of the environment can seem so big that it doesn’t seem like a solution is possible, but as you say, when everyone does their part to work together, goals start to appear within reach 🙂 Great list of steps we can take.

  11. Jerry says:

    Thanks for discussing this very serious issue that’s happening to every single one of us everyday. I agree vegan diet is definitely good, not just for our health but also for the environment.

    But like you’ve said, it’s just impossible to completely eliminate the consumption of animals in our diet. It’s easier to say than be done.

    So I think there must be much better solutions out there.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Jerry. Thanks for your comment. Question: what do you think some of the better solutions are? They say the definition of insanity is doing the the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.

  12. Jenny says:

    Yeah, the most serious problem of all and it doesn’t have the attention it should.
    Everyone keep fighting over money, but let’s say you have the money of the world. If the planet gets destroyed, where will you live???
    I get so angry when I see people not caring because it’s obvious that either they haven’t thought about this at all or they think it’s going to be a problem in a lot of centuries, so we don’t have to worry about that!
    So frustrating!

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Jenny, the amount of apathy and dispassion is part of the problem for sure. But if the USDA and all other US government entities were to campaign heavily for a plant-based diet — I do believe change in that direction would occur almost instantly. If we choose to stop buying and selling animal foods and products — that brutal and uncaring system would start to fall apart.

  13. Melinda says:

    Great article. It points out some things that we do need to take into consideration. The current method of farming, monocropping, is very detrimental to the environment. Factory farmed meats don’t allow the animals to replenish the earth’s nutrients like they do in nature and provide a benefit to the soil.
    Our current system of farming allows for the destruction of soil microbiomes, rodents and snakes. It depletes the topsoil with each crop and we have replaced manure as a fertilizer with nitrogen. Many people don’t realize that the vegetables they buy from the supermarket are lacking in minerals because our topsoil has become so depleted.
    At one time, we used to practice crop rotation and allow the cattle to graze on the land that was dormant. This replenished the nutrients in the soil with their manure, but government and technology have replaced that practice. I don’t think that we can look to the government to help us save the planet.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Melinda. You are right on the money. Government and Private Corporations can not save the planet. WE must make the change. But first we have to understand both the problem and what solutions are available. It is going to be an uphill battle because most fail to make the connection between diet / lifestyle and how it affects the environment.

  14. vanessa says:

    Wow, this was such a great article. I really enjoyed reading about all the ways that can save the environment. If humans only made more of an effort than the problems we have now wouldn’t be so bad. The solutions are great as well, but one of the ways that we can actually make a difference is to have better management of the resources.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Vanessa. Thanks for your comment. Again I just feel that management of resources is not enough. The problem is too acute and increasing. We really need a revolution here.

  15. Ioannis says:

    I never realized we had such a big problem. The article has left me quite worried. This report should me made public and viral so that we all get to know what we are facing and the ways in which we can combat it. As you say, to turn everyone into vegans is quite a task, if not impossible. Nevertheless, there seems to be a new technology which is little by little making its appearance, involving the cultivation of meat in the laboratory, which could change the way we get our meat. Of course, how healthy the fabrication of meat is going to be, is another matter. Still, cultivating meat can one day lead us to the banning of livestock production and the health factor of this fabricated meat, could move each one of us individually and with a sensitization effort from our governments, to adapting a vegan lifestyle.
    Of course, all this involves politics and it will take years to accomplish. Years that from the sound of things, we don’t have. We may be able to play the fashion paper which isn’t so far fetched. I think that with lots of publicity to make people aware of the problem, a large percentage of the population could be steered toward the consumption of vegetables but there will always be the hardliners remaining. One thing’s for sure. If this type of report is not made public, we won’t have a chance. Thanks for spreading the word. We need it!

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi there. Yes it is very worrying. It is a very difficult problem and I am happy you see the urgency. The only solution to it is us. The public. The consumer. The industry is too heavily invested to change. We should make them change!

  16. Stephen says:

    This is a very informative an interesting article. While I’m not a vegan myself, I do believe the livestock industry is way over inflated and is harming not only the environment, but our health through the use of GMOs. That’s why I purchase my meat at the market where the animals are raised locally. Great message. I wish you and your site all the best.

  17. Sabrina says:

    Wow… It’s amazing, I this subject didn’t even cross my mind! I guess that’s what you meant when you stated that most people aren’t even aware of this situation. I have been toying with the fact of going vegetarian. I don’t know if I can do the vegan thing right away.

    I have been noticing almost every time I eat meat now I feel sick and very uneasy. I don’t eat much to begin with so I’m thinking this cannot be a hard challenge.

    I’m terrified to think of where we are going to be in this world when our children grow up. What’s going to be left? I talk with my best friend all the time about when we were kids we’d see bees everywhere, tons of birds in the sky, butterflies everywhere… And now it seems they’ve all but disappeared. When I do see one I thank the universe for letting me see them. Because I don’t know when the last time will be.

    Crazy thought huh.

    Thanks again. And keep putting this important information out there!


    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Hi Sabrina. You are so right about the disappearance of species on the planet. It is not a crazy thought. It’s a real one. And we have some real choices to make. It seems you are in the midst of making yours. Know that if you decide to become vegetarian or vegan that it will get easier and easier. You can do it. Thanks again.

  18. This article is really informative! I think the more word is spread about different ways to help our environment, the more people will start to take notice! Great job communicating the problem and possible solutions. I know many get so busy they forget to really pay attention to issues that we really need to put at the top of our list, myself included. So thank you for calling attention to this very important problem that needs solved.

    • Dwyan Alford says:

      Thanks Stacie for reading and leaving a comment. It brings me satisfaction to know that I have spread the message to people who were not aware of it like I once was. Take care.

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