All areas of global environmental degradation, resource depletion, and most if not all, of our gravest societal issues are inextricably tied to the 70 billion land animals and 1-2 trillion aquatic animals we consume annually.
Natural resource depletion, climate change, food security concerns, hunger, poverty, pollution, biodiversity expiry, declining human health, incalculable violence towards animals, degradation and destruction of earth’s interconnected ecosystems - issues that threaten our very existence can be significantly addressed or all together eliminated with our collective rejection of animal products.
Veganism is not only more compassionate for animals and healthier for humans - it is vastly more resource efficient.
Conspiracy is one of the best resources regarding animal agriculture's impact on our environment. This is the trailer; watch the full documentary at www.cowspiracy.com
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
Transportation exhaust is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2.
Methane has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.
Livestock is responsible for 65% of all emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 296x more destructive than carbon dioxide and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.
Energy related emissions expected to increase 20% by 2040.
US Methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal.
Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.
Animal agriculture use ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons of water annually.
Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.
Californians use 1500 gallons of water per person per day. Close to Half is associated with meat and dairy products.
One hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce – the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs; almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.
1,000 gallons/liters of water are required to produce 1 gallon/liter of milk.
5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes.
The meat and dairy industries combined use nearly 1/3 (29%) of all the fresh water in the world today.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.
335 million tons of “dry matter” is produced annually by livestock in the US.
A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people.
3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited.
90 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year.
For every 1 pound of fish caught, an average of 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.
As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.
Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
100 million tons of fish are caught annually.
Fish catch peaks at 85 million tons.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of Amazon destruction.
1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.
The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feed crops.
110 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.
26 million rainforest acres have been cleared for palm oil production.
136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture.
1,100 activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years.
Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.
130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced for every person.
2-5 acres of land are used per cow.
The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat per year.
Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture.
1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver.
World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion.
70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.
Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day.
Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day.
Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.
A person who follows a vegan diet PRODUCES 50% less carbon dioxide, 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-eater for their food.
Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
Our planet’s resources are not infinite - at least not as it pertains to a modern human lifespan. We are currently on a path to our own eventual destruction - many researchers contend that it isn’t a matter of “if” we will reach a point of no return in making our environment unlivable, but “when”. We are already witnessing a number of irreversible effects animal agriculture is having on our environment; effects that can and will lead to our destruction if we continue to consume the way we are. Environmental collapse is linked to economic collapse, and once irreversible decline is set in motion, eventual social disorder is certain.
It won’t matter how economically viable or stable any society is if its population runs out of water or land, or if it’s environment becomes unlivable due to melting ice caps, rising sea levels and subsequent inundation catalyzed by climate change, or drought that halts all ability to cultivate food for the populace, or an ecology that collapses because of a string of species losses.
At some point we will have no other choice but to value natural resources over temporary gastronomic desire or economic gain. When it becomes yet clearer that our lives depend on protecting and preserving our environmental resources, wealth will have to be defined not by a society’s economic, political or military power but its natural resources and ability to sustain itself and life.
Resource disparity has long been a problem that underlies almost all others for humans. Throughout history the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” is in a constant state of fluctuation. Inequity at its most consequential manifests as survival itself. With about 7.2 billion people currently on earth, about 1 billion of them considered food insecure and almost 8 million people dying of hunger related causes a year, does it make sense that half of the vegan food cultivated in 2013 went to feed livestock animals at an average of 16/1 net calorie loss? Almost 80% of all the course grains produced worldwide and almost a quarter of all agricultural water used annually are allocated to animals, not humans. Though it won’t always be the case if we don’t make the collective shift to veganism, we have enough food for our entire population right now 1.5 times over; but food is not available to everyone. Incredulously, 80% of the countries where starvation is most lethal are those that export grain to feed livestock in wealthier ones.
According to the Global Footprint Network, we have been using our planet’s resources at an estimated 1.6 times what it can sustainably provide. If we continue at this rate of resource consumption we will require another planet the size of earth to accommodate our needs by 2030.
Yet in the face of mortal resource disparity, ruinous environmental degradation and depletion of essential natural resources, 230,000 new humans are added to earth daily. Human population is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050; an estimated 2 billion are forecasted to be food insecure.
Clearly, we cannot go on this way. We have a relatively small window of time, right now, in which we can change our course.