Livestock are one of the most significant contributors
to today’s most serious environmental problems.
Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.
Learn about the issues:
Animal agriculture is a major cause of climate change. It generates 18 percent of all greenhouse gases, which is more than the complete transport sector.
Test your knowledge!
Producing food generates greenhouse gases. Rank the following foods by the one polluting most. Put the biggest polluter per weight of consumed product on top.
The unit in the result is kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilogram of consumed product.
Animal agriculture is a significant consumer and polluter of water. While a large part of our planet is water, less than 1 percent of that is accessible fresh water. We use 97 percent of our fresh water for agriculture; 29 percent of that is used for animal agriculture.
For example, it takes 660 gallon of water to produce 1/3lb burger patty.
The pollution arising from animal and feed farms contributes to the massive spread of dead zones in the oceans and the degradation of many rivers, lakes, and coastal seas.
The second largest dead zone in the world is in the Gulf of Mexico where the runoff from all the agriculture in the Midwest goes to the Mississippi River and ends up in the ocean.
Test your knowledge!
It takes a lot of water to produce food. Rank the following foods by the one using most. Put the highest user on top.
The livestock sector is the single largest user of land. Seventy percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of all land on earth is used for livestock production. This land use and its expansion is a key factor in deforestation, especially in South America. Seventy percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is now pasture, and feed-crops cover a large part of the remainder.
The result: species extinction and biodiversity loss. The current loss of species is estimated to be 100 to 1000 time the background rates in the fossil record and the current period is widely seen as the sixth mass extinction on earth.
Want to learn more?
"Half of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture", Hannah Ritchie, 2019
"Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity", Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, 2008
Eat more plants!
Not many problems of the size mentioned above have simple solutions.
In this case, however, simply switching to a plant-based diet can have immediate positive impacts on the environment, as well as being good for our health and relieve the suffering of animals.
It is important to understand that the environmental problems above, in particular, do not arise from factory farming practices alone, rather they are inherent to eating meat, dairy and eggs. Recommending a return to traditional farming, therefore, is not a solution. In fact, regarding land use, factory farming uses significantly less land than if chickens, cows and pigs roamed in pastures. Greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution impacts of animal agriculture are a direct result of the metabolism of the animals and are proportional to the amount we consume.
The only solution is a significant reduction in consumption!
There are tons of resources online and offline about eating plant-based, here are some of our favorites: