As many people wrap up Veganuary and potentially weigh the pros and cons of sticking with it past the 31st, it’s important to fully grasp the impact that one vegan can have on the world.
It’s so easy to feel like just a drop in a huge ocean. Every vegan or temporary vegan must remember that even one person can make a huge difference for the animals and the planet.
Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.*
Whether you’re a vegan for life or you cut out the animal products one day here and there, you make a difference.
So much of our planet is used to support the meat and dairy industry that if most people were to go vegan, we could end world hunger and significantly shrink our carbon footprint. Think about that.
Here are some facts to digest:
5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture. 1
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. 2
1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk. 3
We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people. 4
82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.5
Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock. 6
Land required to feed 1 person for 1 year:
Vegan: 1/6th acre
Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan 7
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land. 8
1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second. 9
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. 10
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. 11
Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. 12
70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour. 13
2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean yearly. 14
These facts no doubt stirred some thoughts in your mind. Please share below. I’d love to hear your perspective.
*All statistics in this post are from http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts
- Jacobson, Michael F. “More and Cleaner Water.” In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment. Washington, DC: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.
- (NOTE. The amount of water used to produce 1lb. of beef vary greatly from 442 – 8000 gallons. We choose to use in the film the widely cited conservative number of 2500 gallons per pound of US beef from Dr. George Borgstrom, Chairman of Food Science and Human Nutrition Dept of College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, “Impacts on Demand for and Quality of land and Water.” )
Oxford Journals. “Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues”
The World’s Water. “Water Content of Things”
Journal of Animal Science. “Estimation of the water requirement for beef production in the United States.”
Robbins, John. “2,500 Gallons, All Wet?” EarthSave
Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.
“Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN: Langdon Street, 2013. Print
- Water Footprint Network, “Product Water Footprints”.
A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products, WFN.
- Common Dreams, “We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People… and Still Can’t End Hunger”.
Cornell Chronicle, “U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists”.
IOP Science, Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare
80% of the worlds starving children live in 14 countries. (figure 5)
Livestock production country list
Livestock global mapping
- FAO, “Livestock – a driving force for food security and sustainable development”.
Global Issues, “BEEF”.
Wisconsin Soybean Association, “U.S. and Wisconsin Soybean Facts”.
- Robbins, John. Diet for a New America, StillPoint Publishing, 1987, p. 352
“Our food our future.” Earthsave.
PNAS. Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States
“Soy Benefits”. National Soybean Research Laboratory. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
Direct Seeded Vegetable Crops, Johnny Seeds.
- Thornton, Phillip, Mario Herrero, and Polly Ericksen. “Livestock and Climate Change.” Livestock Exchange, no. 3 (2011).
IPCC AR5 WG# Chapter 11, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Us (AFOLU)
- “Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood.” Rainforest Relief.
Facts about the rainforest.
World Resources Institute, “Keeping Options Alive”.
- World Bank. “Causes of Deforestation of theBrazilian Amazon”
Margulis, Sergio. Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest. Washington: World Bank Publications, 2003.
WORLD BANK WORKING PAPER NO. 22
Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
- Fao.org. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.
- Ross, Philip. “Cow farts have ‘larger greenhouse gas impact’ than previously thought; methane pushes climate change.” International Business Times. 2013.
250-500 liters per cow per day, x 1.5 billion cows globally is 99 – 198.1 billion gallons. Rough average of 150 billion gallons CH4 globally per day.
- A well-fed world. factory farms.
Compassion In World Farming. Strategic Plan 2013-2017
ADAPTT. “The Animal Kill Counter”
Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.
- A Mood and P Brooke, July 2010, “Estimating the Number of Fish Caught in Global Fishing Each Year”.
Montaigne, fen. “Still waters: The global fish crisis.” National Geographic.