Animal Agriculture

Our society is showered with images of happy animals living on farms where the cows graze in lush green fields and the chickens have the run of the barnyard. This vision of free-roaming animals living out their days in sunny fields is very far from the reality. A majority of the animals that are raised for food live miserable lives in intensive confinement in dark, overcrowded facilities, commonly called “factory farms.”

For intertest sake: Environmental vegetarianism

Factory farming began in the 1920s soon after the discovery of vitamins A and D; when these vitamins are added to feed, animals no longer require exercise and sunlight for growth. This allowed large numbers of animals to be raised indoors year-round. The greatest problem that was faced in raising these animals indoors was the spread of disease, which was combated in the 1940s with the development of antibiotics. Farmers found they could increase productivity and reduce the operating costs by using mechanization and assembly-line techniques.

Unfortunately, this trend of mass production has resulted in incredible pain and suffering for the animals. Animals today raised on factory farms have had their genes manipulated and pumped full of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals to encourage high productivity. In the food industry, animals are not considered animals at all; they are food producing machines. They are confined to small cages with metal bars, ammonia-filled air and artificial lighting or no lighting at all. They are subjected to horrible mutilations: beak searing, tail docking, ear cutting and castration. Even the most minimum humane standards proposed are thwarted by the powerful food conglomerates.

Broiler Chickens
The broiler chicken industry produces 6 billion chickens a year for slaughter. This industry is ruled by only 60 companies which have created an oligopoly. Broiler chickens are selectively bred and genetically altered to produce bigger thighs and breasts, the parts in most demand. This breeding creates birds so heavy that their bones cannot support their weight, making it difficult for them to stand. The birds are bred to grow at an astonishing rate, reaching their market weight of 3 1/2 pounds in seven weeks. Broilers are raised in overcrowded broiler houses instead of cages to prevent the occurrence of bruised flesh which would make their meat undesirable. Their beaks and toes are cut off and the broiler houses are usually unlit to prevent fighting among the birds.

Layer Chickens
There are about 250 million hens in U.S. egg factories that supply 95% of the eggs in this country. In these facilities the birds are held in battery cages that are very small with slanted wire floors which cause severe discomfort and foot deformation. Between five and eight birds are crammed in cages only 14 square inches in size. Since the birds have no room to act naturally, they become very aggressive and attack the other birds in their cage; to help combat this behavior, the birds have their beaks seared off at a young age. The chicks are sorted at birth and newborn males are separated and suffocated in trash bags. The layer hens are subjected to constant light to encourage greater egg production. At the end of their laying cycle they are either slaughtered or forced to molt by water and food deprivation, which shocks them into another layer cycle. Many birds become depleted of minerals because of this excessive egg production and either die from fatigue or can no longer produce eggs and are sent to the slaughterhouse.

It is estimated that 90% of all pigs raised for food are confined at some point in their lives. Pigs are highly social, affectionate and intelligent creatures, and suffer both physically and emotionally when they are confined in narrow cages where they cannot even turn around. Many pigs become crazy with boredom and develop vices like mouthing, and nervous ticks; others are driven to fighting and cannibalism because of their frustration. Pigs are born and raised inside buildings that have automated water, feed and waste removal. They don’t see daylight until they are shipped for slaughter. Dust, dirt and toxic gases from the pigs’ waste create an unsanitary environment that encourages the onset of a number of diseases and illnesses, including pneumonia, cholera, dysentery and trichinosis.

Veal Calves
The veal industry is notorious for the cruel confinement of calves. Calves are kept in small crates which prevent movement inhibit muscle growth so their flesh will be tender. They are also fed a diet deficient of iron to keep their flesh pale and appealing to the consumer. Veal calves spend each day confined alone with no companionship and are deprived of light for a large portion of their four-month lives.

Dairy Cows
Dairy cows are bred today for high milk production. For cows who are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone, their already high rate of milk production is doubled. Half of the cows in the national dairy herd are raised in intensive confinement, where they suffer emotionally from being socially deprived and being prohibited from natural behavior. Dairy cows produce milk for about 10 months after giving birth so they are impregnated continuously to keep up the milk flow. Female calves are kept to replenish the herd and male calves are usually sent to veal crates where they live a miserable existence until their slaughter. When cows become unable to produce adequate amounts of milk they are sent to slaughter so money can be made from their flesh. The cows are kept in a holding facility where they are fed, watered and have their waste removed mechanically and are allowed out only twice a day to be milked by machines.

Chemicals and Factory Farms
Animals raised in confinement create an ideal setting for bacteria and disease to spread rapidly. Antibiotics were developed around the time of World War II and were soon adapted into the farming system. In the U.S., almost 50% of all antibiotics are administered to farm animals. These drugs form a toxic residue in animal tissue. It is much of this same tissue that is sold to consumers as food products. Each year, we see an increase in the number of salmonella poisoning cases from contaminated eggs, meat and milk. These strains of salmonella are difficult to treat because they are antibiotic resistant. Antibiotics are not the only chemicals administered to factory farm animals; many animals are fed growth-promoting hormones, appetite stimulants and pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and aflatoxins that collect in the animals’ tissues and milk.

What You Can Do
1. Don’t contribute to animal suffering. Choosing a vegetarian diet low on the food chain. Eat healthful plant-based foods instead of animal products.

2. Educate others about cruel farming practices.

3. Encourage restaurants and grocery stores to provide vegetarian products.


  • 1  A factory farm is a large-scale industrial operation that houses thousands of animals raised for food—such as chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs—and treats them with hormones and antibiotics to prevent disease and maximize their growth and food output.
  • 2  Feeding animals antibiotics on a consistent basis may cause the humans that consume them to lose some of their ability to fight certain strains of bacteria.
  • 3  The beaks of chickens, turkeys and ducks are often removed in factory farms to reduce the excessive feather pecking and cannibalism seen among stressed, overcrowded birds.
  • 4  Animals are often force bred to produce young at unnaturally accelerated rates, causing them exhaustion and stress.
  • 5  Animals headed for slaughter who become too sick or injured to walk unassisted are forced onto slaughter trucks, often with a bulldozer.
  • 6  Confining so many animals in one place produces much more waste than the surrounding land can handle. As a result, factory farms are associated with various environmental hazards, such as water, land and air pollution.
  • 7  People who live in close proximity to factory farms often complain of high incidents of illness.
  • 8  To make foie gras, a popular French delicacy, birds are fed large quantities of food via a pipe that is inserted into the esophagus. This can lead to enlargement of the animal’s liver and possible rupturing of the internal organs, infection and a painful death.
  • 9  From birth to slaughter at five months, calves used to produce “formula-fed” or “white” veal are confined to two-foot-wide crates and chained to inhibit movement. The lack of exercise retards muscle development, resulting in pale, tender meat.
  • 10  Egg-laying hens are sometimes starved for up to 14 days, exposed to changing light patterns and given no water in order to shock their bodies into molting, a usually natural process by which worn feathers are replaced. It’s common for 5-10% of hens to die during the forced molting process.
  • 11 After one or two years of producing eggs at an unnaturally high rate, female fowl are classified as ”spent hens.” No longer financially profitable for factory farmers, they are discarded.




Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.   [i] Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.

Transportation exhaust is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions.  [.i]

Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector primarily involve fossil fuels burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation. Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment.

Environmental Protection Agency. “Global Emissions.”

Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

Goodland, R Anhang, J. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change were pigs, chickens and cows?”

WorldWatch, November/December 2009. Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC, USA. Pp. 10–19.

Animal Feed Science and Technology “comment to editor” Goodland, Anhang.

The Independent, article Nov. 2009.

Methane is 25-100 times more destructive than CO2 on a 20 year time frame.

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

Methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame.

(Please note the following PDF is very large and may take a while to load)

“Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions.” Science Magazine.

Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 2050.

Energy related emissions expected to increase 20% by 2040.

Energy Global Hydrocarbon Engineering

IEA, World Energy Outlook 2014

US Methane emissions from livestock and natural gas are nearly equal.

EPA. “Overview of Greenhouse Gases.”

Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day.   [xi]

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.

Converting to wind and solar power will take 20+ years and roughly 43 trillion dollars.

The Cost Of Going Green Globally

Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.

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.

Source: calculation is based on analyses that 51% of GHG are attributed to animal ag.

Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.

U.N. Press Release, Climate Summit 2014.


Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) water use ranges from 70-140 billion gallons annually.

“Draft Plan to Study the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources.” EPA Office of Research and Development. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011.

Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.   [ii]  [xv]

Pimentel, David, et al. “Water Resources: Agricultural And Environmental Issues.” BioScience 54, no. 10 (2004): 909-18.

Barber, N.L., “Summary of estimated water use in the United States in 2005: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3098.”

Agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption.   [xv]

“USDA ERS – Irrigation & Water Use.” United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 2013.

Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US.   [xv]

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.

Californians use 1500 gallons of water per person per day. Close to Half is associated with meat and dairy products.

Pacific Institute, “California’s Water Footprint”

2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. 

(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

477 gallons of water are required to produce 1lb. of eggs;  almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese.

“Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change & Health.” Environmental Working Group.

1,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 gallon of milk.

Water Footprint Network, “Product Water Footprints”.


A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products, WFN.

5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes. 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.   [xv]

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.

Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.  

1/5 of global water consumption:

27%-30%+ of global water consummation is for animal agriculture. 

1/3 of global fresh water consumed is for animal ag.

“Freshwater Abuse and Loss: Where Is It All Going?” Forks Over Knives.


Livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land.

FAO. “Livestock a major threat to environment”

Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.

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) 

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.  [xix]  [iv]

Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and “competition” species are frequently targeted andhunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources. [XIX]

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.

Comfortably Unaware. Oppenlander.

NOAA, “what is a dead zone”.

Scientific America, “What Causes Ocean “Dead Zones”?”.

“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2006.

The Encyclopedia of Earth, “The Causes of Extinction”. 

Annenberg Learner, Unit 9: Biodiversity Decline // Section 7: Habitat Loss: Causes and Consequences

WWF, “Losing their homes because of the growing needs of humans.”

Center for Biological Diversity, “How Eating Meat Hurts Wildlife and the Planet”.

Science Direct “Biodiversity conservation: The key is reducing meat consumption”

FAO, “Livestock impacts on the environment”.

“Fire Up the Grill for a Mouthwatering Red, White, and Green July 4th.” Worldwatch Institute.

Oppenlander, Richard A. “Biodiversity and Food Choice: A Clarification.” Comfortably Unaware. 2012

“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

 Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded deadzones around the world in our oceans.


NOAA News, 2014.

Largest mass extinction in 65 million years.

Niles Eldredge, “The Sixth Extinction”. 

Mass extinction of species has begun.

Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

2-5 acres of land are used per cow.

The Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms / EIB-73:  study by USDA – Economic Research Service ( for acres/cow- pages 12 and 13)

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.

Nearly half of the contiguous US is devoted to animal agriculture. 

The US lower 48 states represents 1.9 billion acres. Of that 1.9 billion acres: 778 million acres of private land are used for livestock grazing (forest grazing, pasture grazing, and crop grazing), 345 million acres for feed crops, 230 million acres of public land are used for grazing livestock. 

U.S. extrapolated data from EPA, Land Uses.

Versterby, Marlow; Krupa, Kenneth. “Major uses of land in the United States.” Updated 2012. USDA Economic Research Service.

USDA, Major Uses of Land in the United States, 1997.

“Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns.” UN News Centre, 2006.

1/3 of the planet is desertified, with livestock as the leading driver.   [xviii]

“UN launches international year of deserts and desertification.” UN news centre, 2006.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

UWC, “Desertification”.

The Encyclopedia of Earth, “Overgrazing”.

UN, “Desertification, Drought Affect One Third of Planet, World’s Poorest People, Second Committee Told as It Continues Debate on Sustainable Development”.

An article that explains desertification and livestock’s role:


Every minute, 7 million pounds of excrement are produced by animals raised for food in the US.

This doesn’t include the animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction or in backyards, or the billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the US.   [v]

“What’s the Problem?” United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook, USDA

335 million tons of “dry matter” is produced annually by livestock in the US.“FY-2005 Annual Report Manure and Byproduct Utilization National Program 206.” USDA Agricultural Research Service. 2008.

A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people. [vi]

“Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Research and Development. 2004.

130 times more animal waste than human waste is produced in the US – 1.4 billion tons from the meat industry annually. 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person in the US.   [xii]

Animal agriculture: waste management practices. United States General Accounting Office.

  In the U.S. livestock produce 116,000 lbs of waste per second: 

-Dairy Cows, 120lbs of waste per day x 9 million cows.

-Cattle, 63lbs of waste per day, x 90 million cattle.

-Pigs, 14lbs. of waste per day, x 67 million pigs.

-Sheep/Goats. 5lbs of waste per day, x 9 million sheep/goats.

-Poultry, .25-1lbs of waste per day, x 9 billion birds.

Dairy cows and cattle-1.08 billion pounds per day (from 9 million dairy cows, 120 pounds waste per cow per day) + 5.67 billion pounds per day (90 million cattle, 63 pounds waste per one cattle per day) = 6.75 billion pounds per day wasteor 2.464 trillion pounds waste per year (manure+urine)

** 3.745 trillion pounds waste per year(this is the equivalent of over 7 million pounds of excrement per MINUTE produced by animals raised for food in the U.S. excluding those animals raised outside of USDA jurisdiction, backyards, and billions of fish raised in aquaculture settings in the U.S.)

 Animals produce Enough waste to cover SF, NYC, Tokyo, etc,

based off 1lb of waste per 1sqft at 1.4 billion tons.

US Livestock produce 335 million tons of “dry matter” per year.


3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.

“Overfishing: A Threat to Marine Biodiversity.” UN News Center.

“General Situation of World Fish Stocks.” United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

We could see fishless oceans by 2048.

Science, “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services”.

National Geographic, article Nov. 2006

90-100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year.   [vii]

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012. (pg 6, 20)

Montaigne, fen. “Still waters: The global fish crisis.” National Geographic.

As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year.

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.

For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.   [viii]

“Discards and Bycatch in Shrimp Trawl Fisheries.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO).

As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.

Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s Nine Most Wasteful Fisheries Named.” The Guardian.

Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.

Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s Nine Most Wasteful Fisheries Named.” The Guardian.

Fish catch peaks at 85 million tons.

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture.” UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO). 2012.

40-50 million sharks killed in fishing lines and nets.

Shark Savers, “Shark Fin Trade Myths and Truths: BYCATCH”. Bonfil, R. 2000. The problem of incidental catches of sharks and rays, its likely consequences and some possible solutions. Sharks 2000 Conference, Hawaii, 21-24 February

Animal Welfare Institute


Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.

World Bank. “Causes of Deforestation of theBrazilian Amazon”

Margulis, Sergio. Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Rainforest. Washington: World Bank Publications, 2003.


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.

1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.

“Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood.” Rainforest Relief.

Facts about the rainforest.

Rainforest facts.

World Resources Institute, “Keeping Options Alive”.

The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and feedcrops.

“Livestock impacts on the environment.” Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (fao). 2006.

Up to137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.

“Rainforest statistics and facts.” Save the amazon.

RAN, Fact Page.

Tropical Rain Forest Information Center, NASA Earth Science Information Partner

Monga Bay, “What is Deforestation?”.

150-200 species per day are lost per day, The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

26 million rainforest acres (10.8m hectares) have been cleared for palm oil production.   [ix]

“Indonesia: palm oil expansion unaffected by forest moratorium.” USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. 2013.

136 million rainforest acres cleared for animal agriculture.


214,000 square miles occupied by cattle (136 million acres):

1,100 Land activists have been killed in Brazil in the past 20 years.   [x]

Batty, David. “Brazilian faces retrial over murder of environmental activist nun in Amazon.” The Guardian. 2009.

20 years ago the Amazon lost its strongest advocate.

Further reading on Sister Dorothy Stang.


USDA predator killing of wild animals to protect livestock.

Washington state killed the wedge pack of wolves.

More wild horses and burros in government holding facilities than are free on the range.

BLM holding population: 49,021

BLM on the range population: 33,780

Ten thousand years ago, 99% of biomass (i.e. zoomass) was wild animals. Today, humans and the animals that we raise as food make up 98% of the zoomass.

Vaclav Smil, Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact, Population and Development Review 37(4): 613-36, December 2011. The proportions are of mass measures in dry weight.  

Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact,Vaclav Smil

New York Times Jul 2013


414 billion dollars in externalized cost from animal ag.   [xvi]

Simon, David Robinson. “Meatonomics” Conari Press (September 1, 2013)

Huffington Post, Sept 2013.

Why A Big Mac Should Cost $200

Global Environmental costs of Animal Agriculture estimated at $170 billion

80% of antibiotic sold in the US are for livestock.

Center For A Livable Future, “New FDA Numbers Reveal Food Animals Consume Lion’s Share of Antibiotics”.

FDA 2009, “Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals”.

World population in 1812: 1 billion; 1912: 1.5 billion; 2012: 7 billion.

“Human numbers through time.” Nova science programming.

Harvesting the Biosphere: The Human Impact,Vaclav Smil

70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.

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.


Throughout the world, humans drink 5.2 billion gallons of water and eat 21 billion pounds of food each day.

Based on rough averages of 0.75 gallons of water and 3 lbs of food per day. water – 1/2 – 1 gallon

food – 3lbs globally per capita per day

US Americans consume 5.3lbs of food per day

Worldwide, cows drink 45 billion gallons of water and eat 135 billion pounds of food each day.

Based on rough average of 30 gallons of water and 90 lbs of feed per day for 1.5 billion cows.

We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.

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

Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock. 

FAO, “Livestock – a driving force for food security and sustainable development”.

Global Issues, “BEEF”.

Wisconsin Soybean Association, “U.S. and Wisconsin Soybean Facts”. 

82% of starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals, and the animals are eaten by western countries.

80% of the worlds starving children live in 14 countries. (figure 5)

Livestock production country list

Livestock global mapping

15x more protein on any given area of land with plants, rather than animals.

“Soy Benefits”. National Soybean Research Laboratory. Retrieved 2010-04-18.

The average American consumes 209 pounds of meat per year.

Note: created from averages of 4 different studies. Center For a Livable Future, “How much meat do we eat, anyway?”

Haney, Shaun. “How much do we eat?” Real agriculture. 2012. (276 lbs)

“US meat, poultry production & consumption” American Meat Institute. 2009. (233.9 lbs)

Bernard, Neal. “Do we eat too much?” Huffington Post. (200 lbs)

Dairy consumption may lead to breast lumps.

Dairy may “give guys man-boobs”

World Population grows 228,000+ people everyday.

World Population Data Sheet

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   [xvii]

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.

1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food.

1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Direct Seeded Vegetable Crops, Johnny Seeds.

USDA NASS, “One Acre of Washington’s farmers land”

Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2012.

A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food.   [xx]

CO2:  “The Carbon Footprint of 5 Diets Compared.” Shrink The Footprint.

“Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

Oil, water: “Sustainability of meat-based and plant-based diets and the environment.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003.

One Green Planet, “Meat The Truth”.

Robbins, John. “Food Revolution”. Conari Press, 2001

Land [xvii]: “Our food our future.” Earthsave.


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.   [xiv]

“Water Footprint Assessment.” University of Twente, the Netherlands.

“Measuring the daily destruction of the world’s rainforests.” Scientific American, 2009.

“Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK.” Climactic change, 2014.

“Meat eater’s guide to climate change and health.” The Environmental Working Group.

Oppenlander, Richard A. Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Further reading on US food disparagement law

Further reading on Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)

The problem with the Allan Savory’s grazing approach.

Dr. Richard Oppenlander.

Professor James McWilliams.

George Wuerthner.


[i] NOTE: In 2013 the UN-FAO lowered livestock’s GHG emissions to 14.5%.

There are many other factors to consider in terms of level of concern we should have regarding the role of food choice in climate change, global depletion in general, and certain applicable time lines as represented (or misrepresented) by the United Nations or any other governing or research institution. In particular:

1    does not represent the entire life cycle analysis (LCA) or supply chain of livestock products, notably omitting carbon dioxide production in respiration (on average 4.8 tons CO2 e/year/cow, 2.3 CO2 e/year/pig, etc.), provides no consideration for increased indirect radiative effects of methane on atmospheric aerosols and particulate capture related to smog (Shindell et al. 2009), and manages land use changes (LUC) with admitted “uncertainty” and under-counting/reporting

2    ultimately defers to a separate category for reporting of greenhouse gas emissions related to “deforestation” (20% of global GHG emissions per UN-REDD), of which livestock and feed crops play a significant role, needing to be added to direct emissions (80% of Amazonian rainforest deforestation and degradation, and destruction of Cerrado savanna since 1970 has been due to expansion for cattle, with another 10% loss due to planting crops to feed them and other livestock)

3    the global warming potential (GWP) for methane used in this report was from IPCC 2007, which was 21 at 100 years. However, the GWP of methane is actually 86 GWP at 20 years

4    the report gave no consideration to carbon sequestration potential lost on land now used for livestock and feed production, which should have been considered as emissions (45% of the land mass on Earth now used by livestock and crops to feed them–International Livestock Research Institute)

5    Consideration should be given to the fact that the lead authors have potential bias in this report; Pierre Gerber is the Livestock Policy Officer of the FAO and Henning Steinfeld is Chief, Livestock Information of the Livestock Sector Policy Branch of the FAO. There is little doubt why obvious omissions were therefore seen in their conclusions presented: “The global livestock sector is faced with a three-fold challenge: increasing production to meet demand, adapting to a changing and increasingly variable economic and natural environment and, lastly, improving its environmental performance.

This FAO report failed to represent urgency in regard to climate change and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, performed no analysis of alternatives, and failed to present risks versus benefits of raising livestock on a global scale.

1    there was no consideration of the effects of raising livestock on continued warming, acidification, deoxygenation and therefore diminished climate regulatory mechanisms of our oceans or time lines related to potential detrimental effects on the oxygen-nitrogen-carbon dioxide cycling capacities.

2    the report gave no account for anthropogenic greenhouse gases generated by agricultural systems related to extraction or raising and eating fish–fuel, refrigeration, packaging, processing, transportation, etc. for both wild caught operations as well as those pertaining to aquaculture/aquaponics/aeroponics, which would thereby provide a more accurate and complete agricultural portrait related to our food choices making it easier for policy makers and consumers to interpret the data and findings

3    there is no discussion, in an overview sense, to provide clarity regarding the component this happens to represent in livestock’s role, or food choice for that matter, in our current state of un-sustainability and the interrelated issues we face–freshwater scarcity, collapse of sea life oceanic ecosystems, unprecedented extinctions and loss of biodiversity, food security and agricultural land use inefficiencies, implications in human health and disease, rising health care costs and loss of productivity, economic risk factors, questions of social justice and implications regarding future generations, etc. (many of these issues are irreversible in our lifetime)–all part of the task of basic but thorough environmental scientific assessment, perhaps beyond the scope of livestock researchers/proponents for this one report, but the critical connection and relevance are vital should have been mentioned, nevertheless.It is quite clear by this report, which presents a filtered and quite limited view of the role of livestock in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and global depletion, that our team should focus our attention on whythere is suppression of information, lack of clarity, or elucidation of facts by our leaders related to the overarching problem of animal based agriculture as a component of food choice–and then how to swiftly correct this. Global governmental institutions such as the United Nations and its FAO should examine all the facts and present them accordingly as they interrelate. Then, they should be able to call for the frank elimination (or comprehensive “replacement”) of imminent threats to our survival such as food choices and agricultural systems that are disease promoting, ecologically unsustainable, and which condone massive unnecessary slaughtering–rather than calling for their perpetuation.


[.i] Some have challenged that the 18% of GHG emissions from animal ag cannot be compared to the 13% of GHG for transportation emissions because it does not take into consideration the full lifecycle analysis of the transportation industry. We have made it clear in the film that 13% of GHG emissions only accounts for the exhaust from the worlds vehicles.


[ii] Although there are Cornell studies citing the water consumption of the US livestock industry at over 66 trillion gallons every year, we decided to go with a much more conservative figure of 34 trillion gallons based off the 2005 USGS figures putting the US total consumptive water use at 76 trillion gallons annually (non-consumptive is for thermoelectric and hydroelectric use that is typically returned directly back to its source immediately). The USDA says that agriculture is responsible for 80-90 percent of US water consumption and growing the feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of that water, bringing the total water consumption of the livestock industry to 34 trillion gallons.


[iii] 1 burger = 2 months showering: based on taking a 4-minute daily shower with a 2.5 gpm shower head.


[iv] “A typical five-acre hog waste lagoon releases 15-30 tons of ammonia into the air annually. Approximately half of the ammonia rises as a gas and generally falls to forests, fields, or open water within 50 miles, either in rain or fog. The rest is transformed into dry particles that travel up to 250 miles.

Ammonia is the most potent form of nitrogen that triggers algae blooms and causes fish kills in coastal waters. The North Carolina Division of Water Quality estimates that hog factories constitute the largest source of airborne ammonia in North Carolina, more than cattle, chickens, and turkeys combined. In 1995, Hans Paerl, a marine ecologist from the University of North Carolina, reported that airborne ammonia had risen 25% each year since 1991 in Morehead City, 90 miles downwind of the hog belt.”


[v] -Dairy Cows, 120lbs of waste per day,x 9 million cows.

-Cattle, 63lbs of waste per day, x 90 million cattle.

-Pigs, 14lbs. of waste per day, x 67 million pigs.

-Sheep/Goats. 5lbs of waste per day, x 9 million sheep/goats.

-Poultry, .25lbs of waste per day, x 10 billion birds.

Dairy cows and cattle-1.08 billion pounds per day (from 9 million dairy cows, 120 pounds waste per cow per day) + 5.67 billion pounds per day (90 million cattle, 63 pounds waste per one cattle per day) = 6.75 billion pounds per day waste or 2.464 trillion pounds waste per year (manure+urine)

** 3.745 trillion pounds waste per year


[vi] Enough waste to cover, etc: based on 1 pound of waste per 1 square foot of land

“Animal farms produce as much manure as small and medium sized cities. A farm with 2500 dairy cattle is similar in waste load to a city of 411,000 people.”

On a 1000-pound live weight basis, each of these animals produces more waste than a human. A CAFO with 1000 animal units of turkeys produces a waste load comparable to a city of 87,700 people. A dairy CAFO with 1000 animal units is equivalent to a city of 164,500 people. The important difference lies in the fact that human waste is treated before discharge into the environment, but animal waste is either not treated at all or minimally treated by virtue of the storage methods used before disposal.”


[vii] Additionally – Oppenlander says 1-2 trillion fish extracted (inc. “bycatch,”) from our oceans each year (“by fishing methods such as trawling, purse seine, long lines, explosives, and other techniques that are damaging ecosystems”)


[viii] The figures for by-kill rates can be as high as 20lbs of untargeted species trapped for every pound of targeted animals killed.


[ix] “The USDA currently forecasts 2013/14 palm oil production…total area devoted to oil palm plantings is estimated at a record 10.8 million hectares.” [26.7 million acres]


[x] “[Dorothy Stang’s] death prompted Amazon activists – more than 1,000 of whom have been murdered in the last 20 years – to demand Brazil’s government crack down on the illegal seizure and clearance of the rainforest to graze cattle, raise soy crops, and harvest timber.”

“More than 1,100 activists, small farmers, judges, priests and other rural workers have been killed in land disputes in the last two decades.”


[xi] A single cow can produce between 66-132 gallons of methane a day. The average US vehicle gas tank can hold about 16 gallons of gas.


[xii] “The US meat industry produced some 1.4 billion tons of waste in 1997— five tons of animal waste for every US citizen. (USDA)”


[xiv] The average person in the U.S. uses 405,000 gallons of freshwater per year (combination of the subfractions which comprise 206 pounds of meat per year– divided between 46 pounds of pig, 58 pounds of cow, 102 pounds of chicken and turkey in addition to 248 eggs and 616 pounds of dairy products), which equates to saving 1,100 gallons of water each day.

– 45lbs of grain saved per day: Grain: multiply ounces of each meat consumed daily per person by the feed conversion factor for each animal.

– It is estimated that 80,000 acres of rainforest are cleared each day with an additional 80,000 degraded, with 70-91% of that degradation for the livestock industry.

– CO2 based of feed conversion ratios and the average US meat consumption of 209lbs per year, per person.

Beef is at 22-27 kg CO2 Eq per kg produced/consumed X 2.5 ounces/day=1.75 kgor 3.85 pounds

Cheese/milk is 13.5 kg per kg product X 2 pounds/day=12.15 kg or 12.5 pounds

Pork is 12 kg per kg product X 2 ounces/day=.68 kg or 1.5 pounds

Combination chicken and turkey is 7 kg per kg product X 4.48 ounces/day= .89 kg or 1.96 pounds minimally (using only chicken)

{turkey, for instance, is 11 kg per kg product}

Eggs are at 5 kg per kg product X 2/3 egg per day= (50 g/egg) .55 pounds

— which equals 20.36 pounds of CO2 Eq saved per day.


[xv] An important distinction must be made between water “use” and “consumption”. Hydroelectric power is one of the largest “users” of water in the US, but actually consumes very little water. The water is used to power turbines or for cooling and is almost always returned to the source immediately. Agriculture is the largest “consumer” of water because it pulls water from the source and locks it up in products, not returning it to the source immediately, if ever.


[xvi]  $414 billion of externalized costs breaks down to: $314 billion in health-care costs, $38 billion in subsides, $37 billion in environmental costs, $21 billion in cruelty costs, $4 billion in fishing-related costs. Learn more by reading Meatonomics, by David Robinson Simon.


[xvii]  On average, one acre of land of any level of fertility will be able to produce 15 to 18 times more protein from plant based sources than from animal products. Additionally, using any agricultural database regionally, nationally, or internationally, one can calculate that on average between 10 times and 100 times (in weight) more plant foods (vegetables, fruit, grain/nuts) on one acre of land than from animal products raised on that same acre of land, regardless of the level of fertility of that particular acre of land, presuming it is the same acre used for either product, animal or plant based.


[xviii] Many organizations are studying humanity’s effect on soil degradation, erosion, and eventual desertification but not willing to emphasize the final connection of dots to animal agriculture. According to the UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), nearly 20 million acres of arable land is lost each year due to desertification and the primary reasons are:

1. deforestation due to cultivation of crops and pasture

2. overgrazing from livestock (“eating away grasses and eroding topsoil with hooves”)

3. intensive farming stripping away nutrients in soil

Overgrazing by livestock is the principal land problem related to desertification as indicated in the article: And, according to the UNDDD: “Nearly 20% of the degrading land (globally) is cropland, and 20-25%, rangeland.” Understanding that over 70% of the global arable land used for agriculture is planted for crops grown for livestock, there is be ample support for the statement that “animal agriculture is the leading driver for approximately 1/3 of the land lost on earth due to desertification.”


[xix]   Few prominent scientists will openly proclaim the connection of their research findings with the need to eliminate animal agriculture or promotion of fully plant based nutrition. This is an observation that spans all aspects of global depletion related to food choice, including the topic of loss of biodiversity and extinction of species.

The statement that animal agriculture is the primary driver of biodiversity loss and extinction of species is supported by many discussions and interviews with leading authors and scientists working for the Convention of Biodiversity and IUCN as well as publications regarding current biodiversity assessments as presented by Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the IUCN Red List, and the Global Environmental and Biodiversity Outlook.

Most organizations that associate their work with species and ecosystem/biodiversity concerns as well as the scientific community as a whole believe that the six main threats to our oceans are climate change, overfishing, predator loss, pollution, destruction of habitat, and bycatch, (“bykill”).

(For instance: The Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union and the Convention on Biological Diversity).

As of August 2012, the 2004 Global Species Assessment was the most recent empirical data on global extinction rates, based on birds, mammals, and amphibians. According to an interview conducted by Dr. Oppenlander with Simon Stuart, PhD, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission:

“Habitat loss from grazing livestock and feed crops is far and away the most pervasive threat to terrestrial animal species, impacting 86 percent of all mammals, 88 percent of amphibians, and 86 percent of all birds. One in every eight birds, one in every three amphibians, and one in every four mammals is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the near future. Overexploitation of wild animals for consumption remains a second major factor for extinction, such as can be seen in bushmeat trade in Africa and Southeast Asia and all hunting endeavors on land, globally.”

The Alliance for Global Conservation estimates 36 percent of all species on our planet are in danger of extinction.

Scientists have divided our planet into 825 terrestrial “ecoregions” (as well as 450 freshwater and a number of oceanic ecoregions), each defined by its own distinct set of animal and plant species, as well as climate. Of all these land ecoregions, almost half are reported by lead scientists (interviews/discussions) to have livestock as a current threat. The World Conservation Union reported in 2010 that “most of the world’s endangered or threatened species” on their Red List (which lists the species that are most endangered) are suffering habitat loss due to livestock—not due to agriculture but to livestock.

The Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010 agreed that none of their goals from 2002 for lessening the rate of biodiversity loss were met. The attendees confirmed that the main pressures for the rapid loss of species—habitat change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species, and climate change—were all increasing in intensity.

Current biodiversity assessments (as presented by Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the IUCN Red List, and the Global Environmental and Biodiversity Outlook) now generally agree that land use change, modification of river flow, freshwater pollution, and exploitation of marine environments are the most significant drivers of biodiversity change and loss of species. Because more than 50% of the land use changes on Earth are related to livestock (ILRI), 70 to 90% of freshwater pollution in western countries (particularly the U.S. and China) can be traced back to animal agriculture, minimally 14.5% of anthropogenic GHG emissions/climate change, and 100% of “exploitation of marine environments” is related to the global commercial fishing industry, it can be safely and confidently demonstrated that “the primary driver of global species’ extinctions and loss of biodiversity is animal agriculture.”


[xx] The amount of water, land and fuel used for differing diets varies greatly from the types of foods consumed, amount consumed and the geographical region where the food was raised. Taking into consideration that 1lb of beef requires upwards of 2500 gallons of water to produce compared to only 25 gallons for 1lb of wheat, the water footprint of a person consuming a high meat diet could be 100x greater than that of a person consuming only plant foods. The same applies for land and oil use. Many arid areas of the world can not support 1 cow per 2 acres and require 50+ acre per cow, compared to a crops such as potatoes that can produce 50,000lbs+ per acre. The energy/fuel inputs are similar. 1 calorie of beef can take 27x more energy to produce than soybeans.