The Beef with Meat: Facts to Chew On

Livestock Provides 18% of Calories Yet Gobbles Up 83% of Farmland

Industrial Cattle Farming

For earthlings looking for a low-impact way to dramatically help the environment, we can all begin with the food on our plates.

As a starting point, the latest data shows that avoiding meat and dairy could be the single most powerful way to reduce your carbon footprint.  Here’s why:  A new report shows that livestock delivers just 18 percent of calories eaten by humans, but consumers up to 83 percent of the farmland on Earth.

What’s more, if everyone were to put a hold on meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by 75 percent — and still feed everyone on the planet. In all, that would represent an area the size of the U.S., the EU, China and Australia — combined.  

According to the Journal of Science, the new analysis shows agricultural meat and dairy production produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.   What’s more, additional research notes  that 86% of all land mammals are now livestock or humans. 

The bottom line is clear:  even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products cause much more environmental degradation than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal farming.

To determine the results, the Journal Science, created a dataset based on approximately 40,000 farms in 119 countries and covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all the food that is eaten.