A new study from the UK shows that vegetarians are significantly less likely to develop cancer than meat-eaters.  If that news alone isn’t a good enough reason to reduce or end your consumption of meat, consider the water that raising livestock requires.  In California, where we are in a severe drought that is expected to last for years, residential water customers have been told that they need to reduce their water consumption by 20%.* Yet, 83% of water usage in California is for agricultural purposes.  The bulk of that water goes to growing feed for livestock and raising the animals themselves.  So, an easy way for the state to consume less water is for people to reduce or eliminate their consumption of meat.   Cattle in particular are recognized as the most water-intensive livestock to raise.

The water management issues of the Western U.S. will only intensify in the future.  The government doesn’t have the temerity to tell the public to consume less of a product (meat, in this case) that is not only produced in the state but has a powerful collections of lobbies behind it.  Instead, they have taken the politically-expedient route of turning to residential water customers.  Households should certainly endeavor to conserve water wherever possible.  Take shorter showers, install low-flow showerheads and toilets, plant drought-tolerant plants in yards and use mulch.  If you really want to significantly reduce the amount of water you use, though, eat less meat.  It will easily outpace the amount of water you are saving by other means – and it just might save you from getting cancer.

UPDATE: Check out this chart of comparative water usage for different parts of the daily ritual from the good folks at GOOD magazine.

*(Surprisingly, households that use less than 100 gallons per day are exempt from the mandatory reduction.  I couldn’t believe that anyone would use that much water in a day.  A luxurious, finger-wrinkling 20-minute shower uses 40 gallons.  It seems to me that it would be hard to use up 60 more gallons.  So, I was shocked to find that the average Californian uses 190 gallons of water per day! )