The sources of the facts on this website are below. If you would like any further details, or have new research to share with us, please get in touch.

Home page

It can take 30 bathtubs of water to produce just one beefburger.
• Ercin AE, Aldaya MM and Hoekstra AY, The water footprint of soy milk and soy burger and equivalent animal products, Ecological Indicators, 18, 2012, p. 400.
• Waterwise, online at https://www.waterwise.org.uk/save-water/ (accessed 17 January 2021).
• Calculations at https://www.meatfreemondays.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Measuring-Meat-Free-Monday-Secondary.pdf

An area of rainforest the size of a hundred football pitches is cut down every hour to create room for grazing cattle.
• Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, PRODES, 2016, online at http://www.obt.inpe.br/OBT/assuntos/programas/amazonia/prodes (accessed 17 January 2021); (b) Bustamente MMC, et al., Estimating greenhouse gas emissions from cattle raising in Brazil, Climatic Change, 115, 2012, pp. 559–577; (c) Laws of the Game 2017/18, The International Football Association Board, 2017, p. 34.
• Calculations at https://www.meatfreemondays.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Measuring-Meat-Free-Monday-Secondary.pdf

Almost a third of all land on Earth is used for livestock production.
• Steinfeld H et al, Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2006, p. xxi.

Why it matters

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organisations have estimated it could be as much as 51%.
• Gerber PJ et al, Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2013.
• Goodland R and Anhang J, Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?, Worldwatch Institute, 2009.

The Worldwatch Institute estimates that a staggering 70% of the world’s freshwater supplies goes towards agriculture – a third of this to grow animal feed crops.
• Renner, M et al, Peak Meat Production Strains Land and Water Resources, Worldwatch Institute, 2014.

A 2020 Oxford University study found that, even if harmful greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels were stopped immediately, it would be impossible to keep global heating to the lowest safe limit without a shift to a more plant-based diet.
• Clark M, Domingo N, Colgan K, Thakrar S, Tilman D, Lynch J, Azevedo I and Hill J, Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change targets, Science, November 2020, Vol. 370, Issue 6517, pp. 705-708

The US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”.
• Melina V, Craig W, Levin S, Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 109, Issue 7, July 2009, pp.1266-1282.

A study carried out by Oxford University’s department of public health found that eating meat no more than three times a week could prevent 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from cancer and 5,000 deaths from stroke, as well as save the NHS £1.2 billion in costs each year.
Healthy Planet Eating, Friends of the Earth, October 2010.

It can take up to 12 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef.
• Agricultural Statistics 2012, US Department of Agriculture, Washington DC, 2012; Table 1-75, online at https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Ag_Statistics/2012/2012_Ag_Stat.pdf (assessed 17 January 2021).

Currently some 800 million people on the planet suffer from hunger or malnutrition, yet an amount of cereal which could feed three times this number of people is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens.
• FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019: Safeguarding against economic slowdowns and downturns, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2019.
• Steinfeld H et al, Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2006, p. 12 and p. 43.

Agricultural intensification and expansion, and overfishing, are major factors in loss of species and biodiversity – if present trends continue, over the next 100 years or so there will be a global mass extinction of species.
• Rothman, DH, Thresholds of catastrophe in the Earth system, Science Advances, Vol. 3, No. 9, e1700906, 2017.

Impact calculator

• Data provided by The Darwin Challenge App, 2020. All figures relate to the average diet in OECD countries.
• Figures are approximate and have been rounded to a small number of decimal places.
• Calculations and sources at https://www.thedarwinchallenge.org/metrics
• Differences:
– Additional calculations for vegan diets
– Forests saved: The amounts have been capped at one year, as agricultural land can be used over and over again. Effectively each of us uses a small virtual section of the planet that produces our food year in year out.
• For more information, contact The Darwin Challenge.

Recipes

Skipping meat for one day a week can reduce your annual carbon footprint by as much as not driving your car for a whole month!
• Weber CL and Matthews HS, Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States, Environmental Science & Technology (2008), 42(10), pp. 3508-13.
• Calculations at https://www.meatfreemondays.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Measuring-Meat-Free-Monday-Secondary.pdf

It can take 2350 litres of water to produce just one 150g beef burger. That’s enough water to fill 30 bathtubs or have a five-hour shower!
• Ercin AE, Aldaya MM and Hoekstra AY, The water footprint of soy milk and soy burger and equivalent animal products, Ecological Indicators, 18, 2012, p. 400.
• Waterwise, online at https://www.waterwise.org.uk/save-water/ (accessed 17 January 2021).

Only a fraction of soy is consumed by humans. Over 80% of the world’s soybeans are turned into feed for farmed animals!
• Steinfeld H et al, Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, 2006, p. 43.
• WWF, Soy, online at https://wwf.panda.org/discover/our_focus/food_practice/sustainable_production/soy/ (accessed 17 January 2021).

FAQs

Around 60% of the world’s agricultural land is used for beef production, yet beef produces less than 5% of the world’s protein and less than 2% of its calories.
• Boucher D, Elias P, Goodman L, May-Tobin C, Mulik K, Roquemore S, Grade A Choice? Solutions for Deforestation-Free Meat, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2012.

90% of vitamin B12 supplements produced in the world are fed to livestock.
• Rooke, J, Do carnivores need Vitamin B12 supplements?, Baltimore Post-Examiner, 30 October 2013, online at https://baltimorepostexaminer.com/carnivores-need-vitamin-b12-supplements/2013/10/30 (accessed 17 January 2021).

Around 60 billion animals are farmed and killed each year.
• FAOSTAT online database, http://faostat.fao.org/default.aspx

Press enter or esc to cancel