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The Issue of Meat Consumption

  • November 12, 2019
  • Post : mannadew

The reality is we need to quickly reduce our meat consumption per capita as a species or we will not have enough food to go around.  This article hopes to give you the facts as presented by the WWF foundation to help you understand and hopefully contribute to the reduction in livestock farming, a goal that will improve our sustainability on the planet from every aspect.

In 2018, a statistic run by the WWF foundation identified the world now has more than 23 billion birds for human consumption, about 3 per human being. [source]

Pigs are the second largest animal population on earth.  In 2009, a shocking statistic is that pigs at 30% of the world’s livestock feed

Humans are eating meat a a rate much higher than their recommended nutritional amounts, on average a person consumes 75 pounds of meat per year (34kg).  At this rate of demand we’d need 80% increase in feed production for livestock if we are able to continue supplying at this rate of consumption per person.  With the growth in population the number is simply unsustainable [source]

The chart below shows just how quickly meat consumption is rising around the world. 

There is not enough agricultural land to produce the feed needed to supply meat at today’s current rate of meat consumption, especially at this rate of human population growth.  

It’s fascinating to see the impact of meat on our agricultural land as we only get 17% of our caloric diet from meat and dairy, but 83% from plants yet it uses 77% of available agricultural land.  It is clear that this is not the most efficient way to feed a growing population and sooner rather than later the reality will dictate a reduction in livestock production and utilise more of that land that was previously dedicated to live stock to produce more food for human consumption [source]

Animal welfare is also being marginalised to create efficiencies and produce more meat and dairy product over the same space [source]

Environmental Effects of our Livestock

The impact of livestock on the environment is also quite significant, with it being responsible for 10-12% of greenhouse gases roughly.  That’s approximately 3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases of the 37 billion released every year, just from meat, poultry and dairy [source]

Beef is the largest producer of green house gases, nearly 4 times that of poultry[source]

Our marine environments are now showing signs of damage by human intervention, in fact 2/3 marine environments have shown significant changes due to human action.[source]

Land is becoming more and more degraded because of the severely changing weather conditions- 23% of our global land surface seeing reduced agricultural activity with a total loss of production of ~600 billion USD every year [source]

More than 1/3 of the entire land and 75% of its entire fresh water supply are dedicated to livestock [source]
Plastic pollution has increased 10x since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped into waters and fertilisers are entering marine ecosystems producing oceanic dead zones totalling more than the area of the UK[

There is also no indication of this slowing down, politics seems adamant on postponing the problem and not properly resolving it [source]

Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992[source]

Our livestock also consumes a tremendous amount of fresh water.  The chart below shows just how much is produce per KG of food produced, with cow meat nearly double the second largest consumer which is nuts.

In Summary:

  • Livestock consumption and farming will need to shift to become more sustainable
  • People have to change their habits and rate of consumption of meat products
  • We can’t sustain this growth in livestock production
  • 75 % of our land and 1/3 of our water are used to feed livestock
  • Reducing our livestock industry will have significant impact on the environment (produces 10% of global green house gases)
  • Eat more plants, Grow more plants, eat meats more moderately


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