Eating Meat and Climate change

How does meat consumption impact our environment?


A glass of milk for breakfast, spaghetti Bolognese for lunch, a boiled egg, and maybe a couple of slices of salami for supper.

How do these meals affect the bigger picture?

They contribute to global growth in the consumption of animal products. Especially in developing countries, the demand for meat and other animal-based products is increasingly on the rise.

According to forecasts, the demand for meat will double by 2050.

Animals aren't the only ones who suffer as a result of this industry: people do as well. Many people are unaware that increasing meat consumption has a harmful effect on the climate and the environment.

Animal Products are Climate Killers

Climate change is caused by increased quantities of greenhouse gases humans produce, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N20.) These greenhouse gases are released not only by burning fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil or by transportation such as cars, ships, and airplanes. Livestock farming and the production of animal-based products have serious effects as well.

Worldwide, 16.5 percent of total man-made greenhouse gas emissions are from animal production, of which the beef and dairy industries are the biggest climate polluters in the sector.

Compared to the production of fruits and vegetables, much more energy is needed to produce meat, milk, cheese, and butter, resulting in more CO2 emissions. The increased production of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide is mainly caused by the fertilization of agricultural land and the production of mineral fertilizers and pesticides.

Additional Effects

  • Deforestation of woodland and tropical forests to create pastures or areas for growing animal feed, such as soy.
  • Water shortage and pollution: a huge amount of water is needed in the various stages of meat production and the production of other animal-based products (for example, 3,962 gallons of water are used to produce just two pounds of beef.) The over-fertilization of agricultural land, the use of pesticides, etc. also lead to the pollution of water resources.
  • Biodiversity loss due to the deforestation of tropical forests and changes in grassland areas in order to create agricultural land.

we can follow a more compassionate diet 

by refining our food choices, reducing our meat, dairy and egg consumption and ultimately opt for a plant-based diet, which is the most animal-friendly diet. The more we become aware of how similar farmed animals are to our favored companion animals, the more we are able to see the similarities and make better, more conscious food choices. 

Cattle in burnt field

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Twine, R. Emissions from Animal Agriculture; URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/11/6276
The Guardian

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