In a recent study, University of Pittsburg environmental scientists Dr. Xue Xiaobo and Professor Amy Landis in Pennsylvania, USA calculated the “nitrogen footprints” of various foods.
They then compared this measure of environmental impact with the same foods’ carbon footprint. Nitrogen pollution is created from nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer runoff as well as nitrogen contained in livestock manure, both of which are washed by rain into rivers and out to bays and the ocean, where they spur the growth of algae, which dies and is then consumed by bacteria.
The oxygen-depriving effects of the bacteria create the often-massive dead zones such as the 8,000-square-mile area near the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
Of all the foods measured by the scientists, meat and dairy products topped the list as the most nitrogen-damaging to the ecosystem, while plant-based foods had the lowest impact.
Our appreciation, Drs. Landis and Xue for helping us to understand the environmental damage caused by nitrogen and its primary source in animal products.
May such insights motivate us all to adopt the truly eco-friendly plant-based lifestyle. During a November 2009 videoconference in Washington, DC, USA, Supreme Master Ching Hai explained the harms of livestock waste to both the environment and lives while suggesting the simplest way to reverse the problem.