Until now, most people eat meat. People eat eggs, drink milk and love rolls. It cannot be said that they are guided by malicious intent: most do not even think that it is possible in a different way. However, this does not mean that their actions do not have negative consequences.

Every year around the world, according to the animal hunger and welfare organization A Well-Fed World, grow up

70 billion farm animals. More than 6 million are killed every hour. Animal husbandry is the main cause of species extinction, water pollution and habitat destruction of wildlife, especially tropical forests. In this material, we will give examples of the detrimental impact of the industry on the planet.

Changing of the climate

For those who purposefully did not understand this topic, it is not obvious how destructive animal husbandry is to the climate. This industry, according to the documentary project Cowspiracy, accounts for about 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than emissions from the entire transport sector: from cars, ships, aircraft. And if you take into account all the by-products of animal husbandry, then the percentage of emissions increases to 51. Researchers from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that the maintenance of livestock accounts for 65% nitrogen oxide emissionsassociated with human activities. This greenhouse gas is 296 times more damaging than CO2.

Climate change itself poses numerous risks to the quality of life due to the increased likelihood of extreme weather events: floods, droughts and heatwaves. It is the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.


It’s not just livestock raising that contributes to climate change. The redistribution of land to meet growing demand for livestock also has its own implications. According to the environmental organization Conservation International, about 81,000 hectares of rainforest

for grazing livestock or growing animal feed. This is three times the area of ​​Moscow. On average, according to the Rainforest Action Network, 137 species of plants, animals and insects in the rainforest die out every day due to the destruction of these biodiverse regions. In particular, in the Amazon rainforests, where, according to WWF, lives at least 10% of known biological diversity

peace, 91% felling associated with livestock.

Water use

When we talk about the impact of animal husbandry on the planet, we are looking at all the resources that the industry uses. And this is both the grain itself for feeding livestock, and the resources aimed at growing feed. One of the main resources on which the livestock industry is highly dependent is water. According to a study by an international team of scientists published in PNAS, the meat and dairy industry uses one third of fresh water Earth. In the US, for example, 5% of water use is for households and 55% for livestock. Part of this 55% includes water given daily to animals. The exact amount varies from animal to animal and may fluctuate depending on their size and environment. OMAFRA calculated that a dairy cow will drink on average 115 liters per day.

Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand for it and drives up prices. It is becoming more difficult for people living in poor countries to feed themselves. Instead, grain could be used to feed people and water to irrigate crops. In such a scenario, as described in the IAASTD report, we could feed more 3.5 billion people. Industrial animal husbandry is not only inefficient, but also unfair.

land use

In addition to water, animal husbandry needs another resource – land. According to the International Livestock Research Institute, there are now 45% of all land on Earth. a third of the area eventually deserts. The land is subject to chronic degradation, which leads to a decrease in nutrients and carbon in the soil and insufficient water absorption. People need to rethink how we use the planet’s limited lands. To get 100 kg of meat, according to the authors of Cowspiracy, you need to use 3500 square meters of land. If the same area were redeveloped, it could bring almost 10 times more plant food.


When talking about animal husbandry, they rarely think about fish, but fishing also negatively affects the environment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, for every kilogram of fish caught, fish are caught and discarded. 5 kilograms of substandard marine species. In 2016 about 88% of total fish production (151 million out of 171 million tons) were for direct human consumption. Each year, the growth in the amount of fish available for food exceeds the growth in the amount of meat from all land animals combined. By some estimates, we could see fish-free oceans by mid-century.

Oabandonment of animal husbandry

If you decide to eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of animal products from your diet, this will help save the planet.

Researchers from Shrink That Footprint, One Green Planet and EarthSave International calculated that a person who eats a 100% plant-based diet produces 50% less carbon dioxideuses 1/13 water and 1/18 land compared to the average meat consumer. Animal husbandry is harmful, and it is harmful not only for animals and people, but also for the Earth. Avoiding meat and animal products is one of the simplest things we can do to live more ethically.

The author of the material is Daria Terekhova