Chances are that you’ve consumed at least one animal product, or any material (food, in this case) derived from an animal’s body, in your life (unless you’ve been vegan since birth), whether that be dairy, meat, eggs, or anything in between. Animal products are known to provide several important vitamins and minerals for humans, including calcium and protein. Year by year, more and more animal products are produced and consumed. However, the process to make these products takes a large toll on the environment. I’ve compiled a list of 10 horrific statistics about the animal agriculture industry that illustrates just how bad the situation is. Keep reading to find out what they are.
1. Livestock production accounts for 14.5% of the globe’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or those that originate from human activity. This amount is larger than that produced by the entire transportation sector, Johns Hopkins claims. Additionally, the industry makes up 60% of the agriculture sector’s emissions.
2. On average, about 1.8 thousand gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain are used to produce 1 pound of beef (most of which are fed to the cows), according to Food Tank. To produce 1 pound of pork, 576 gallons of water are used. As a whole, animal agriculture uses 56% of water in the United States.
3. Even the lowest-impact beef releases 6 times more GHG emissions and uses 36 times more land than most plant proteins.
4. If animal product consumption were to disappear completely, global farmland consumption would decrease by over 75%, and still comfortably supply the world’s stomachs. For comparison, the size of this lost land is roughly the size of the US, China, European Union, and Australia combined, according to a 2019 study posted in the Science Journal.
5. The factory farms used in the US’s livestock production industry create 13 times more waste annually than the entire population of the nation does.
6. The industry is responsible for about 57% of water pollution and 56% of air pollution.
7. The largest contributor to the livestock production’s GHG emissions is enteric fermentation (39%), which is a digestive process only used by ruminant animals such as cattle and goats that releases quite a bit of methane, a GHG, as a byproduct. The second-largest contributor is, strangely enough, manure.
8. Over a third of Earth’s landmass is used for grazing and feed crops, which takes away from native land for endangered species.
9. According to Johns Hopkins, “If global trends in meat and dairy intake continue, global mean temperature will more than likely exceed 2 [degrees] Celsius, even with dramatic emissions reductions across non-agricultural sectors.” This is due to the industry’s high GHG emission intensity. More greenhouse gases means more heat trapped in the atmosphere, which causes the average global temperature to rise.
10. 80% of deforested lands are used for cattle ranching. Cattle ranching is also the largest contributor to deforestation in every Amazonian country.
After reading these statistics, you may be extremely shocked. (I know I was!) Unfortunately, in order to reduce your animal product consumption, you have to cut down on the amount of animal products you eat. However, I do acknowledge that there may be some individuals who simply cannot do this due to, say, mineral deficiencies, or anything like that. If that’s you, ignore what I’m saying. Health comes before anything. If that’s not you, try to find other plant-based alternatives for animal products. Some companies that make plant-based products are Dr. Praeger’s, Beyond Meat, and Impossible Foods. It’s going to be a large change, and perhaps even a struggle, but even small changes are changes. You can do it!