Cutting down or cutting out animal products from your diet is probably the most important contribution you can make to the battle against global warming. Livestock farming is responsible for 18% of global warming – more than the entire transport sector, including aviation.
It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months. And here are a few more interesting facts and statistics:
• It takes up to 13 kilos of grain and 16,000 litres of water to produce just 1 kilo of meat.
• It takes up to five kilos of wild-caught fish to produce one kilo of farmed fish.
• It takes 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.
• Burning fuel to produce fertiliser to grow feed, to produce meat and to transport it – and clearing vegetation for grazing – produces nine per cent of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.
• The wind and manure of farmed animals account for more than one third of emissions of methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide.
• Livestock produces more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world’s emissions of ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain.
• Ranching is the main cause of deforestation worldwide, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert.
• Intensive production of grain to feed factory farmed animals necessitates heavy use of herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics and other chemicals which filter into water systems and the food chain.
• Around 75% of supermarket chickens are infected with campylobacter.
• The livestock sector is the largest source of water pollution. Farming and slaughtering animals produce vast amounts of body waste laced with chemical residues which run off into rivers and ground waters, contributing to dead coastal zones, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems and the emergence of antibiotic resistance.