Our daily choices have consequences far beyond what we consider. When picking up a burger from a fast food restaurant, do you think about how it was produced? Did you know that 1.1 billion land animals are killed for food every year in the UK alone? Add to this nearly 900 million fish and 4.3 billion shellfish, and the total comes to over 6.4 billion animals killed for food every year in the UK. 
Of course, using such a huge number of animals has major implications. Cows produce large volumes of methane – a greenhouse gas that is over 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide – thus cows directly contribute to global warming. It is not just the animals themselves that are the problem, however. One of the primary drivers of deforestation in the Amazon is the need for land to grow soy for animal feed. Over 70% of the world's soy is fed to livestock, with only around 6% turned into food for direct consumption by humans. When you think about it, it becomes obvious that growing soy to feed to a cow to then be killed and turned into a burger is an incredibly inefficient use of resources.
Another factor to which many people turn a blind eye is how farmed animals are treated. Did you know that dairy cows are forcibly impregnated every year in order that they produce milk continuously? Their calves are taken away shortly after birth, and male calves are often killed at just a few hours old because they are of no use to dairy farmers. Similarly, in the egg industry, it is standard practice to kill male chicks at a few days old, in either a giant grinding machine or a gas chamber.
With most of our lives so far removed from food production, it is not surprising that we often do not consider where our meals come from. Advertisers tempt us with images of cheap, fast food, neatly packaged for our convenience; a world away from the true reality of food production and the horrific exploitation of animals for the sake of maximising profits.
It is important to ensure you know where your food comes from and how it is produced, so that you are not unwittingly lining the pockets of companies that are both fuelling the climate crisis and treating animals abhorrently. The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce (or eliminate) your meat and dairy intake. Don't be ignorant. Don't be complicit.
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