A blizzard in Washington state took dairy farmers by surprise this week, killing more than 1,800 cows, while over 300,000 cows were killed in a major flood in Australia.
The Washington region that is home to factory farms each holding 3,000 to 5,000 cows normally gets only six to eight inches of rain a year and is usually spared extreme weather. So when the blizzard hit, farmers were unprepared and hundreds of cows suffered and died. During the storm, cows clustered together and some were trampled or crushed.
As the blizzard decimated cows in Washington, “unprecedented” floods hit Australia’s Queensland state, killing a massive number of animals.
With half of Australia’s 25 million cows in the Queensland area, farmers estimate that one in every 40 animals was killed. They say more than 300,000 cows were drowned or washed away when heavy rains flooded the region after years of drought. According to Australia’s weather bureau, Queensland’s longest river experienced “its most significant flood in the last 50 years.”
If we don’t act now, more incidents of extreme weather are bound to occur, killing more and more farmed animals. From hurricanes and record amounts of rainfall to wildfires and devastating blizzards, extreme weather linked to climate change is becoming increasingly common. And while not everyone can afford an electric car or solar panels, there is something we can all do: go vegan.
Animal agriculture has an enormous impact on the environment. A pound of meat requires on average 13 times more fossil fuel and 15 times more water to produce than a pound of soy. According to a recent study from the University of Oxford, “impacts of the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes, providing new evidence for important dietary change.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions. In fact, greenhouse gas emissions from cow’s milk are almost three times higher than those from vegan alternatives.
By ditching meat and dairy products, you can reduce your carbon footprint from food by at least half.
Just as we can no longer doubt that climate change is real, we can no longer deny that animal agriculture is terrible for the planet. Since plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs require a fraction of the resources to produce than their animal-based counterparts, going vegan is truly a no-brainer.
But switching to a vegan lifestyle isn’t only good for the planet; it also spares countless animals a life of misery at factory farms. Cows used for dairy endure lives of misery and deprivation at factory farms. They are forcibly impregnated, roughly handled, and separated from their calves—male calves are taken and slaughtered for veal while females are raised to replace older cows in the herd. Cows are trapped in this cycle until they are considered “spent” and sent to slaughter.
There has never been a better time to make the kind move away from dairy products. Choose healthy and delicious plant-based versions instead. To get started, download our FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today.