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Ten Facts About Animal Agriculture

Updated: Jan 11

Meat and dairy is an ever-growing industry that produces some of our best foods like burgers, pizza, soup, and many other things. But what do we really know about the effect this having on our planet? Below are ten facts to help you understand more about animal agriculture and find some sources that support these statements.



Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.



"Livestock's Long Shadow: environmental issues and options". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome 2006


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.

Goodland, Robert & Anhang, Jeff. "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs and chickens?". WorldWatch. November/December 2009

Hickman, Martin. "Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases". Independent. November 2009

Hyner, Christopher. "A Leading Cause of Everything: One Industry That Is Destroying Our Planet and Our Ability to Thrive on It". Georgetown Environmental Law Review. October 23, 2015.



Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

"Livestock' Long Shadow: environmental issues and options". FAO. Rome. 2006

"Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States". U.S. Energy Information Administration. March 31, 2011


Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2 limit by 2030, all from raising animals.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Source: calculation is based on http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294 analyses that 51% of GHG are attributed to animal ag.



2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.

Robbins, John. "2,500 gallons all wet?" Earth Save: Healthy People Healthy Planet.

Pimentel, David, et al. "Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues". BioScience (2004) 54 (10): 909-918.

"Water Content of Things: Data Table 19". The World's Water 2008-2009

Beckett, J. L, Oltjen, J. W "Estimation of the Water Requirement for Beef Production in the United States". Journal of Animal Science. 1993. 71:818-826

"Water". Environmental Working Group.

"Water footprint of crop and animal products: a comparison". Water Footprint Network



Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.

"Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification". comfortablyunaware: Global Depletion and Food Choice Responsibility. June 9, 2012

"Freshwater Depletion: Realities of Choice". comfortablyunaware: Global Depletion and Food Choice Responsibility. November 25, 2014

"What is a dead zone?" National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

"What Causes Ocean 'Dead Zones'?" Scientific American

"Nutrient Pollution: The Problem". Environmental Protection Agency


We could see fishless oceans by 2048.

Worm, Boris, et al. "Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services". Science. Vol 314. 3 November 2006

Roach, John. "Seafood May Be Gone by 2048, Study Says". National Geographic News. November 2, 2006

Montaigne, Fen. "Still Waters: The Global Fish Crisis". National Geographic



For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.

"Discard and bycatch in Shrimp trawl fisheries". FAO: Fisheries and Aquaculture Department



Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.

Margulis, Sergio. "Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon". World Bank Working Paper No. 22. 2003

Tabuchi, Hiroko, Rigny, Claire & White, Jeremy. "Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back". New York Times. February 2017

Bellantonio, Marisa, et al. "The Ultimate Mystery Meat: Exposing the Secrets Behind Burger King and Global Meat Production". Mighty Earth


82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.

Oppenlander, Dr. Richard. "The World Hunger-Food Choice Connection: A Summary". Comfortably Unaware Blog. August 2012

"Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress". UNICEF. April 2013

"Livestock production index". The World Bank

"Global livestock production systems". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome 2011

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