Animal Agriculture Is Destroying Our Planet


The degradation of the environment from animal agriculture is far greater than any other threat.  The author highly recommends watching the documentary Cowspiracy. It is very important to watch this.

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

70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.

Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day.

Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day.

Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock.

The following is a list of salient facts regarding animal agriculture.  These were found on the Cowspiracy web site where sources for the information are also listed.


Greenhouse Gases

18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by animal agriculture.  This is more than the total combined exhaust from all transportation modes.

Transportation exhaust accounts for 13% of all greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector mostly involve fossil fuels burned for air, road, rail, and marine transportation.

Livestock and livestock byproducts produce at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 in a 20-year time frame.
Methane has a potential global warming effect that is 86 times that of CO2 on a 20-year time frame.

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

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase 80% by 2050.

Energy related greenhouse gas emissions are slated to increase 20% by 2040.

US Methane emissions from natural gas and livestock are nearly equal.

Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane each and every day.  It is not possible to conceive of this amount.

250-500 liters per cow per day, x 1.5 billion cows globally is 99 to 198.1 billion gallons or a rough average of 150 billion gallons of methane globally per day.
Converting to wind and solar power will take 20+ years and roughly 43 trillion dollars provided there is the political will to do so.

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

Reducing methane emissions from animal agriculture would create tangible benefits almost immediately.


Water Use

Oil industry fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges between 70 to 140 billion gallons annually (only in the billions).

Animal agriculture water use ranges from 34 to 76 TRILLION gallons each year.

Agriculture in general is responsible for 80 to 90% of water consumption in the US.

Growing feed crops that are fed to livestock consumes 56% of available fresh water in the US.

Persons in California use 1500 gallons of water per person each day. Close to half is associated with meat and dairy products.

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

(NOTE. The amount of water used to produce 1 pound of beef varies greatly from 442 to 8000 gallons. The producers of the Cowspiracy film chose to use the widely quoted conservative number of 2500 gallons per pound of US beef.  This comes from Dr. George Borgstrom, who is the Chairman of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, "Impacts on Demand for and Quality of land and Water.")

To produce 1 pound of eggs, 477 gallons of water are required; almost 900 gallons of water are consumed to produce 1 pound of cheese.

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce a single gallon of milk.

5% of water used in the US is by private residences. 55% of water used in the US is for animal agriculture.

Worldwide, animal agriculture is responsible for 20 to 33 percent of all fresh water consumed in the world at this time.


 Land Use

Livestock or livestock feed occupy one third of the earth’s ice-free land.

Animal agriculture contributes to extinction of the earth’s species in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction brought about by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and "competition" species are often targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways. The over-exploitation of wild species by way of commercial fishing, bush meat trade as well as animal agriculture’s profound impact on climate, all contribute to global depletion and extinction of resources and species.

Livestock feedlot facilities on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead-zones in our oceans around the world.

We are experiencing the greatest mass extinction of species in 65 million years.

2 to 5 acres of land are used for one cow.

Nearly half of the contiguous US is dedicated to animal agriculture.

One third of the planet is desertified, with livestock being the leading cause.


Waste from Animals

Every single minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by livestock animals in the US.


This doesn’t include the animals raised in backyards, outside of USDA jurisdiction or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture facilities in the US.

A farm with 2,500 dairy cows generates the same quantity of waste as a city of 411,000 people. 

130 times more animal waste is produced than human waste in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry each and every year.

Each year, 5 tons of animal waste is produced for each person in the US.

In the U.S., livestock produce 116,000 pounds of waste each second:

-Dairy Cows produce 120 pounds of waste each day x 9 million cows.

-Cattle generate 63 pounds of waste each day, x 90 million cattle.

-Pigs produce 14 pounds of waste per day, x 67 million pigs.

-Sheep and Goats make 5 pounds of waste every day x 9 million sheep/goats.

-Poultry generate .25 pounds of waste each day, x 9 billion birds.  

Cattle and dairy cows produce 1.08 billion pounds of waste per day (from 9 million dairy cows, 120 pounds waste per cow per day) + 5.67 billion pounds per day (90 million cattle, 63 pounds waste per one cattle per day) = 6.75 billion pounds per day waste or 2.464 trillion pounds waste per year.  This is 3.745 trillion pounds of waste per year (this is the equivalent of over 7 million pounds of excrement each MINUTE generated by animals raised for food consumption in the U.S. and this excludes those animals raised beyond USDA jurisdiction, in backyards, and the billions of fish raised in aquaculture facilities in the U.S.)

Animals produce enough waste to cover SF, NYC, Tokyo, etc., based on 1 pound of waste per 1 square foot at 1.4 billion tons.


Ocean Pollution and Destruction

3/4 of the world’s fisheries are being exploited or are now depleted.  We could easily see fishless oceans by the year 2048.

90 to 100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans every year.

As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from our oceans every year.

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



As much as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally each year are thrown away.

Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are inadvertently killed each year by fishing vessels.  Fish catch peaks at 85 million tons.

40 to 50 million sharks are accidentally killed in fishing lines and nets.


Rainforest Destruction

Animal agriculture has caused up to 91% of Amazon forest destruction.  1 to 2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.

The primary causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feed crops.


Up to 137 animal, insect and plant species are lost each day as a result of rainforest destruction.

26 million rainforest acres (10.8m hectares) have been cleared for the production of palm oil.

136 million rainforest acres have been cleared for raising animal livestock – mostly cattle.

1,100 land activists have been assassinated in Brazil over the past 20 years.


Wildlife Losses

Animal agriculture promotes USDA predator killing of wild animals to protect livestock.

Washington state killed the wedge pack of wolves.

More wild horses and burros are in government holding facilities than are roaming free on the range.

Ten thousand years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was accounted for by wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food constitute 98% of the zoomass.


Effect on Humanity

There is an estimated 414 billion dollars in externalized cost from animal agriculture.

80 percent of antibiotics purchased in the US are for use on livestock.

World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion.

70 billion farmed animals are raised each year throughout the world. More than 6 million animals are killed for food each hour.

Worldwide, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food every day.

Throughout the world, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food every day.

5.2 billion gallons to 45 billion gallons

21 billion pounds to 135 billion pounds

This is based on a rough average of 30 gallons of water and 90 pounds of feed per day for 1.5 billion cows. 

We are presently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.

Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock.

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

We can produce 15 times more protein on any given area of land with plants instead of animals.

The average American eats 209 pounds of meat each year.

Dairy consumption may lead to breast lumps.  Clinical studies show a direct correlation between dairy products and breast cancer and prostate cancer as well as other cancers.

Dairy consumption may “give guys man-boobs”

World Population grows by 228,000+ people each day.


Vegan: 1/6th acre

Vegetarian: 3 times as much as a vegan

Meat Eater: 18 times as much as a vegan

1.5 acres can grow 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.

1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat.

A person who eats a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th the amount of oil, 1/13th the amount of water, and uses 1/18th the area of land compared to a flesh eater for their food.

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 45 pounds of grain, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, 1,100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forested land, and one animal’s life.

Save the world, save the environment, save the Rainforest, save the oceans, save your own health and stop the suffering of these 6 million farmed animals that are slaughtered every hour.




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