Many of us like to eat meat. So much so that livestock is now one of the leading contributors to global warming, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions as measured in a carbon dioxide equivalent.
Livestock farming has a hugely detrimental effect on the natural world and it’s just not necessary. By swapping meat and fish for a plant-based diet you will:
Reduce your carbon footprint
Livestock farming produces huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. One study estimated that the farming of animals caused more emissions (18%) than the world’s entire transport system (13.5%).
- Livestock farming is responsible for almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human-related activities.
- Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times as damaging to the climate as carbon dioxide and 65% of the total quantity produced by human activity comes from livestock, mostly their manure.
- Methane has 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide and a single cow can produce 500 litres of methane a day.
- Cows and sheep are responsible for 37% of the total methane generated by human activity.
- Carbon dioxide is emitted when forests are cleared for grazing or for growing grain to feed animals. Fossil fuels are used to transport animals and to power the production of their feed.
It takes thousands more litres of water to produce a kilo of beef than to grow the same quantity of grains, vegetables or pulses. Manure, antibiotics and hormones all find their way from livestock farms into our water system, while fish farms release chemicals and parasites that threaten wildlife.
- Over 1 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean water and more than double do not have proper sanitation.
- By 2025 there will be 1.8 billion people living with absolute water scarcity.
- Farming accounts for around 70% of all freshwater withdrawn from lakes, waterways and aquifers.
- Meat production, especially the feeding of cattle, is a particularly water-intensive process.
- Livestock production accounts for over 8% of global human water consumption.
- Estimates of the water required to produce a kilo of beef vary, from 13,000 litres up to 100,000 litres. The water required to produce a kilo of wheat is somewhere between 1,000-2,000 litres.
- Agricultural products account for 73% of the total water footprint.
Livestock production is responsible for 70% of Amazon deforestation.
- 30% of the earth’s entire land surface (70% of all agricultural land) is used for rearing farmed animals.
- Cattle require approximately 7kg of grain in order to generate 1 kg of beef while pigs require 4kg grain for 1 kg of pork.
- Livestock production is responsible for 70% of the Amazon deforestation in Latin America, where the rainforest has been cleared to create new pastures.
- A typical meat eater’s diet requires up to 2.5 times the amount of land compared to a vegetarian diet and 5 times that of a vegan diet.
- A farmer can feed up to 30 people throughout the year with vegetables, fruits, cereals and vegetable fats on one hectare of land. If the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk and/or meat the number of people fed varies from 5-10.
Protect the oceans
Industrial fishing practices are destroying fragile eco-systems and wiping out whole populations of sea creatures.
- In 2006, total world fisheries produced 143.6 million tonnes of fish, 92 million tonnes from capture and 51.6 million tonnes from aquaculture.
- 110.4 million tonnes (77%) was consumed by humans.
- By the year 2030 an additional 37 million tonnes of fish per year will be needed.
- 19% of major commercial marine fish socks monitored by the FAO are overexploited, 8% are depleted and 1% ranked as recovering from depletion.
- 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises are killed every year as ‘by-catch’ of the fishing industries.
- Over-fishing, by-catch, climate change, invasive species and coastal development have resulted in a decline in the number of marine species, such as sharks, seabirds and turtles.