Globally, farm animal production accounts for nearly one-fifth of human-created greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the entire transportation sector.
As outlined in the United Nations report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, livestock production is also a major contributor to the problems of land degradation, air pollution, loss of biodiversity, and water pollution.
On average Australians eat over 70 kilograms of meat per person each year. Cut out beef from your diet and you’ll save 1.45 tonnes of greenhouse gas a year. Switching from a normal sedan car to a hybrid car would reduce your annual emissions by only just over one tonne.
Almost 50 per cent of all the grains grown in the world go towards cattle feed — enough food to feed 8.7 billion people. Presently 870 million people — one seventh of humanity — are undernourished.
Production of dairy and beef products is particularly water-intensive. The dairy sector alone accounts for one out of every 10 litres of total household water use. It takes 1,000 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.
- Reduce your meat and dairy consumption or, even better, commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet. These are two of the most effective things you can do to reduce your environmental impact. For more information, see To meat or not to meat (PDF).
- See EWG’s ‘Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health‘ (US, 2011).
- Check out small scale local alternatives for less intensive farming practises
- See Australian Ethical’s useful article ‘7 reasons you don’t have to go vego to eat more ethically‘.