The Environmental Impact of Meat

“Heavy Meat”
Meat has more impact on the environment than vegetables or grains.
Eat less or no meat and more veggies.

Oh boy.
There we go.
Let’s shall dive in without any kind of introduction, as I don’t find the right words for it anyway.

We eat too much meat and dairy and this has become unsustainable for our environment.

Why do we eat so much?

Mainly two reasons.
1. We have never been so many humans on earth : 7 billions. That’s a lot. (So much I’m considering not having kids right now. There I said it. Not today’s debate though.)
2. As countries became richer, the place of meat and animal products in our diet raised.
More demand in meat resulted in so called factory farming, where the animal density is high and production of meat fast mainly due to growth hormones.

The Impact of meat production on the environment :

1. Land Use
In order to produce meat we use land. Lots of it. To be exact 30% of the world’s land is solely reserved for meat production, that’s about the size of Asia.
Whaaat? How? You might ask.
Well for one, livestock needs some space to stand and graze. But it also needs to be fed.
From all the arable lands on earth (so all lands specifically meant for crop production) 33% are just to feed the livestock.

2. Global Warming
– Carbon Dioxide, aka CO2
Aka the bad boy, the most known and most spoken of. Carbon Dioxide is produced when burning fuel. Feeding the animals, slaughtering them, processing the meat, but also the related transport of feed, animals and meat and finally the storing of meat needs energy.
Also… Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, yup.
– Methane
is a real problem here. Sorry what? What is methane anyway?
Weeeeelll animals poop (tadaaa) and they fart as well. (unicorns would too if they’d exist, it’d just look like a rainbow because unicorns are awesome, but I digress)
All that pooping and farting comes with a specific gaz : methane, which is created when digesting food.
All well and good you might say, but humans do as well. This is true enough but 1 cow produce 120 Kg of methane per year when a human only produces 0,12 Kg.
Methane traps heat 20 times better than Carbon Dioxyde CO2, thus placing meat production as the number one cause of global warming… (aaaand a huge round of applaaaauuuuse!! ahem…)
– Nitrus Oxide
The meat and animal production produce 65% of all Nitrus Oxide emissions on the world through manure and urine and although the fertilizers used in their feed.
That gaz traps heat 300 times better than CO2
Yes… no wonder the UN wishes the world to go vegan.

3. Water
Did you see Mad Max : Fury Road? Water there is scarce and thus power. This is already the case in some parts of the world, and if we don’t change a thing, that fiction might not be as fictional in a couple of years.
The US have suffered from water drought this year, meat production is not innocent in that matter.
To get an idea :
To produce 1 Kg of meat, you need 15.400 L of water
The production of 1 Kg of wheat or potatoes needs 1.000 L of water
Oh and while we’re at it… chocolate is pretty bad too, requiring a whooping 17.000L of water to produce just one Kg. Yikes, right?
The water we eat
Why care about your water footprint?

And I haven’t even touched pollution, ethics and health yet…
Did I forget something? Comment below and add to the discussion.

Conclusion : reduce your intake of meat (especially beef), eggs and dairy products.

For a starter, check out these vegan recipes :

I actually have so much more to talk about vegetarianism, veganism and what not. I’m reading and watching so many different things right now regarding the most eco way to live while still enjoying life (and being healthy) and I wonder if and how to bring it to you.
So yeah this is just a baby step toward the twist in my work, following the twist that happened in my life.

Stay healthy
p.s.: une traduction en français? oui j’y songe, cette fois-ci elle a une importance.


Visual graphs :
Veganism and the Environment
Facts & Graphs about Food Production
Food Math

Read more
Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN : Livestock a major threat to environment (2006)
FAO : Livestock’s Long Shadow
Stanford : Consequences of increased global meat consumption on the global environment — trade in virtual water, energy & nutrients
How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture
The Guardian : We’re Eating too much Meat (2012) : Is the Livestock Industry Destroying the Planet?
BBC : The Methane Makers

How does eating meat harm the environment?
Meat and the Environment
Is Meat Sustainable?
10 Scary Facts About Meat and the Environment
How Does Meat in the Diet Take an Environmental Toll?

Food Waste
5 Ways Wasting Food Hurts the Environment (and 5 Ways You Can Fix It)

18 thoughts on “The Environmental Impact of Meat

  • July 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I knew about the water, but am astonished by the farts lol! Great eye opener! I am not a vegetarian, but hardly eat any red meat, chicken also costs lots of water but much smaller than beef, I know it is still bad and will use even less meat with your posts 🙂

  • July 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I think the key is just to consume less. Happy to read you want to reduce your chicken intake a bit though 🙂
    Of course going vegan is the best option, but we also need to be realistic about it, it's damn hard to make such huge changes, especially over night.

  • July 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    interesting article… I think most of the pollution problems could be fixed if people would have a bit of care of balancing their carbon print, stop multiplying like rabbits, plant some trees that would use the CO2, use the methane in the farts as a fuel, and just eat less meat if they can't stop altogether. For most people, having a perspective on the effects of meat consumption never even crossed their mind.
    Looking forward to read the ethics and health approach of this subject.

  • July 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Yes very true, eating less already makes a huge impact, bigger than not driving your car or showering every 3 days 🙂
    It's more and more in the news so I though most people would already ahve heard of it, but most probably don't really bother reading articles in details.
    So there, I have found a calling haha!

  • July 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! Illuminating and clear. I have so many things to learn and have in mind… before opening my mouth (xe, xe)!!!

  • July 11, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    120 kg of Methane? Wow… 1000x as high as a human then…
    And to think that meat consummation was 1 or 2x a week around 50 years ago, now it is 2x a day for many westerners, I agree we could do with a little less.
    Besides the water problem the meat industry is alo using LOTS of antibiotics to pump up the animals as fast as they can, another moral point that can be raised.
    And then the drought in California is double bad, because the reservoirs and lakes are so full of pollutants that the water evaporating leaves poisonous wells.
    I can go on for quite a while, it is past time to bring this up, and keep on bringing it up, thank you, you have my full attention and support 🙂

  • July 12, 2015 at 7:18 am

    I have been going back and forth on the meat issue. Every time I cut it out I end up with one deficiency or another so I am forced to eat a little…begrudgingly
    Anyone ever watch the video "Food Inc.? " You will never eat meat again!! find it on You-tube.

  • July 12, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Yes it is past time to bring it up 🙂 will see what I can come up with art wise to talk about it more often.
    Yes eating meat has just become ridiculous ourdays, I used to eat meat twice a day, thinking that's how you suppose to eat properly…

  • July 12, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Most humans used to eat 1-2 meat per week for quite some time, however now many eat twice meat a day, and that is quite ridiculous.
    Also I have the feeling that we have no clue how to properly feed ourselves.
    I skipped meat easily enough, but I still eat fish and seafood occasionally (maybe 2-3 a month) I have an easy health, no allergies and not much problems. The only things that changed with the change of diet is that I get less colds than before and my skin is clearer.
    If I may ask, what deficiency have you encountered? I've read so much about veganism these past months that I'm starting to think that you can live on plants only. (with a little B12 added though)

  • July 12, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    justement un long article (deux pages) dans mon journal local sur ce sujet auj

  • July 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Great information! My girlfriend and I was enlightened by similar information about a year ago and since then we have been cutting back on our dependency on meat and animal products. We haven't been able to cut meat out entirely, nor do we plan too- but the proof is there and we should all do something to contribute!

    Also- great photo above!

  • July 22, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I hardly ever eat meat, and what I eat is from the wilds. Not everyone has that option. But reducing intake would indeed help hugely. The disconnect between what you eat and where it comes from is enormous. People seem to not realise they are eating a living, breathing, feeling creature. They should be treated with respect. Growing them like things is so so wrong.

  • July 22, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Yes, very true. Although right now, people are starting to realize it, we're still far from a sufficient change, but the trend is to eat less meat and if you eat meat, 'humane' meat and not factory meat.


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