Updated: May 2, 2020
But only produces 18% of the worlds calories.
Meat and dairy are bad for you sure, but it's a personal choice, right? If I choose to eat meat and it kills me, I'm the only one impacted.
Unfortunately that couldn't be farther from the truth. Animal Farming is literally destroying the planet.
meat, aquaculture, eggs, and dairy use ~83% of the world’s farmland and contribute 56 to 58% of food’s different emissions, despite providing only 37% of our protein and 18% of our calories
Literally half of all land on the planet is now being used for farming and of 83% of that, or 41.5% of ALL LAND is used to raise animals or to raise the feed that the animals eat. Natural habitats are being destroyed to grow more corn and soy, just to feed it to the billions of animals that we slaughter every year.
Globally, animal farming accounts for between 14% and 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
So it's bad, but what makes it worse is the fundamental inefficiency in raising animals for food.
An analysis of the animal farming industry, which looked at the ratio of calories in and calories out for different types of animals, showed that in total, animal farming is only producing 18% of the total calories consumed by humans.
Another study provides some of the detail on why this is true, and shows the efficiency of different types of animals with respect to feed conversion ratios (calories in the feed versus calories in the finished product).
Beef is the worse with only a 3% conversion ratio, meaning that for every 1000 calories that goes into beef cattle, only 30 calories comes out in the form of consumable meat. So that 300 calorie hamburger patty took more than 10,000 calories to produce. That's 10,000 calories that could have been consumed by a human for food. In fact, using a 2,000 calorie/day diet, those 10,000 calories could have fed a human for 5 days.
Other types of meat are somewhat more efficient in terms of conversion ratio, but the bottom line is that animals are simply not an efficient way of producing food.
People gobble down their meat because they think they need to eat meat to get the required amount of protein, but all of that land going to animal farming actually only produces 37% of the protein that is consumed on the entire planet. Where does the rest of the protein come from? Plants. Sixty-three percent of ALL protein consumed on the planet comes not from animals, but from plants.
We can produce the same amount of food using only 22% of the farmland that we currently use.
So do the math people, if we stop eating animals for food we can produce the same amount of food using only 22% of the farmland that we currently use. That means that we could feed 15 Billion people using less than HALF of the current farmland.
And this is not just a hypothetical. The world's population is going to go to at least 11.2 Billion by 2100 assuming that population growth rates slow down significantly from where they are today. If the growth rates don't slow, we could be looking at a population of as many as 15B by 2100. The good news is that we can feed all of those people with less than half of our current farmland.
What gives any of us the right to waste food that this level?
The question we all need to be asking ourselves, is what gives us the right to individually consume, on average, 5.5 times the amount of food that you need to live? That's what you are doing, indirectly, when you eat animal products. And remember that's an average. When you eat beef, you are indirectly wasting 34 times more calories than you are consuming. And since U.S. consumers eat three times more meat than the global average (225 lbs per year versus 75 lbs per year), that means that Americans are, on average, wasting 15 times more calories than what they need to live.