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Animal agriculture is really bad for our planet.

Part 3 of 3

Did you know that it takes 3000 Litres of water to make 1 hamburger!

No, your eyes are fine, and no I have not made a typo, and yes the number is correct. 3000 litres of fresh water are required across the entire production chain to produce 220g of beef. In comparison it only takes 60 litres of water to produce 500g of potatoes.

Let's recap quick in case you missed Part 1&2

Get Part 1 & 2 by clicking on the links

Part 3 - The impact of animal agriculture on the environment.

Evidence is increasingly revealing just how big an impact our food choices have on the living world, and environmentalists are switching to plant-based diets to minimise the damage caused in food production.

Climate Change

Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors of climate-changing emissions. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 per cent of human-induced emissions.

This makes animal products more damaging than the emissions from every car, plane, bus, truck, train and ship on the planet. In Sweden, researchers analysed 39 peer reviewed articles, carbon calculators and government sources and came up with the four most impactful ways each of us can reduce our footprint.

1. Adopt a plant-based diet, 2. Limit flying, 3. Stop driving and 4. Limit the number of children we have.

Water Shortages

Those of us who have abundant fresh water at the turn of a tap rarely give a thought to worldwide water shortages, but 844 million people have no access to clean water, and 300,000 children die each year of diarrhoea, linked to dirty water and poor sanitation.

Globally, agriculture uses an astonishing 70% of all available water, but it is animal agriculture that demands the most. Without water, nothing can live but just three per cent of the world’s water is fresh, and just one-third of that is readily available for human use.


Animal farming is a key polluter of air, land and waterways. The air inside animal farms contains high levels of organic dust, which is known to lead to respiratory problems. Such farms may also emit air pollutants into the atmosphere, including ammonia and hydrogen sulphide, as well as microorganisms and toxins.

Land is polluted by the vast amounts of slurry produced by billions of farmed animals. It is known to be noxious and should be stored securely but all too often it is either deliberately spread on the land or accidentally leaks onto it. Slurry and other agricultural pollutants contaminate rivers, poison the water, decimate aquatic life and are a key factor in the growth of ocean dead zones.

Deforestation and Species Loss

Animal agriculture uses 85% of our farmland but provides us with just 18% of our calories. It is a wasteful, highly inefficient, land-hungry practice.

In order to make way for grazing livestock and to grow the vast amount of crops needed to feed the billions of animals farmed and killed for food every year, whole swathes of forests and other ancient habitats have been razed to the ground.

The people and animals who once lived there are displaced or killed. Such wanton destruction has driven whole species to extinction. Already, 60% of the world’s animal populations have been wiped out just in the last 50 years. Whole ecosystems are collapsing, species are being lost forever and the loss of plants and sea life will reduce the Earth’s ability to absorb carbon.

Dying Oceans

More than 30% of the world’s fisheries have already been pushed beyond their biological limits or are in need of dramatic action to restore them. Entire aquatic populations are on the verge of collapse, and all for a product we do not need to eat.

Switching to farmed fish does little to protect wild fish, as many farmed fish – including salmon and trout – are carnivorous so their feed is made up of wild-caught fish who were dragged from the oceans. Often, to compound the problem, their feed also includes soya, grown on deforested land. Ending our consumption of fish will do more to restore the oceans than any other action we

can take.


Animal agriculture is incredibly wasteful. It uses vast amounts of land, water and energy, while giving us fewer calories back in meat, milk and eggs than we fed to the animals.

It is no way to feed a growing human population and is not sustainable. In all, one-third of the world’s cereal harvest and 90% of the world’s soya harvest is fed to farmed animals.

The land is pushed to its limits with the application of fertilisers, pesticides and other soil-damaging practices. 95% of our food is grown in the uppermost layer of soil, making topsoil one of the most important components of our food system, but conventional farming practices mean that nearly half of the world’s most productive soil has disappeared in the last 150 years.


Hopefully it makes a bit more sense why there are more and more vegans than there used to be.

  • Meat and dairy consumption is simply bad for the animals who are subjected to levels of cruelty that no rational human being could justify.

  • Meat and dairy consumption is bad for our health and a core component of the chronic disease burden that kills more than 110 000 people every day.

  • Meat and dairy production is catastrophic for our planet

5 life changing reads

  1. How to Go Vegan by Veganuary

  2. How Not to Die by Michael Greger

  3. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

5 Life Changing movies

Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he seeks to find solutions to the most pressing environmental issues of our time

A powerful exposé of the dark underbelly of animal agriculture captured by drones,

hidden and handheld cameras

Researchers explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases such as cancer and diabetes

4. Seaspiracy (2021) - currently available on Netflix

Made by the team behind Cowspiracy, Seaspiracy exposes the myth of sustainable fishing, shines a spotlight on the aquaculture industry and introduces the notion of “blood shrimp”, seafood tainted with slave labour and human rights abuses.

5. The Game Changers (2019)

The evidence that elite athletes thrive as vegans. Executive produced by Arnold

Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton and Novak Djokovic.

Thinking of switching to a plant based diet but don't know how?

Click on the image to find out more

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