Many posts on Grist detail the negative environmental impacts of factory farming and the meat and dairy industries overall. Bottom line: There is probably no personal act more effective at benefiting the environment than reducing meat consumption.
But a true environmentalist must also take a hard look at the social dimensions of sustainability; again, the meat industry ranks as the worst form of abuse. As this radio show documents, slaughterhouses in America are places of such immense depravity and illegality that they are the worst places to work in the whole country.
The reason these factories persist (more than 100 years after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published) is that many of the workers in them are illegal immigrants who live under the shadow of deportation, some as young as 13 years-old.
Environmentalists who want to continue to eat meat at minimum should see to it that they do not support the corporate factory-farming system.