→ Animal Agriculture & Climate Change

Animal Agriculture & Climate Change

Drop That Burger "While livestock accounts for only 9% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, it accounts for 37% of human-caused methane (most of it emanating from the animals’ digestive systems) and 65% of human-caused nitrous oxide, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Both are far better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, meaning that cows, chickens and their ilk have a larger greenhouse effect than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world."

Beef Production and Greenhouse Gas Emissions "In fact, if nitrous oxide and other emissions from land conversion are included in the analysis, a large-scale shift to organic, grass-based extensive livestock production methods would increase overall GHG emissions by nearly 60% per pound of beef produced."

Food Emisisons "A low-consumption diet with less meat consumption causes lower GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions than a high-consumption meat-rich diet." "Chomping Climate Change addresses the failure of politicians for 20+ years to implement international policies on climate change. Now most people don’t trust politicians on climate change. Our mission is to inspire people to learn about and act on the only pragmatic way to reverse climate change before it’s too late."

Climate Benefits of Changing Diet

Diet and the environment: does what you eat matter? - "Results show that, for the combined differential production of 11 food items for which consumption differs among vegetarians and nonvegetarians, the nonvegetarian diet required 2.9 times more water, 2.5 times more primary energy, 13 times more fertilizer, and 1.4 times more pesticides than did the vegetarian diet. The greatest contribution to the differences came from the consumption of beef in the diet. We found that a nonvegetarian diet exacts a higher cost on the environment relative to a vegetarian diet. From an environmental perspective, what a person chooses to eat makes a difference."

Diet, Energy, and Global Warming - "The energy consumption of animal- and plant-based diets and, more broadly, the range of energetic planetary footprints spanned by reasonable dietary choices are compared. It is demonstrated that the greenhouse gas emissions of various diets vary by as much as the difference between owning an average sedan versus a sport-utility vehicle under typical driving conditions. The authors conclude with a brief review of the safety of plant-based diets, and find no reasons for concern."

Eat Less Meat and Improve Farming Efficiency to Tackle Climate Change - "New research from the University of Exeter shows that if today’s meat-eating habits continue, the predicted rise in the global population could spell ecological disaster. But changes in our lifestyle and our farming could make space for growing crops for bioenergy and carbon storage."

Evaluating the Environmental Impact of Various Dietary Patterns Combined with Different Food Production Systems - "A shift in eating habits towards the increase of the direct consumption of plant foods seems to be a desirable objective in this perspective. Owing to their lighter impact, confirmed also by our study, vegetarian and vegan diets could play an important role in preserving environmental resources and in reducing hunger and malnutrition in poorer nations."

Is a Diet Low in Greenhouse Gas Emissions a Nutritious Diet? - "The results of this study indicate that a self-selected diet low in diet related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) provides comparable intake of nutrients as a diet high in GHGE, and adheres to dietary guidelines for most nutrients."

Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States - "We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. household’s 8.1 t CO2e/yr footprint for food consumption. Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range in GHG-intensity; on average, red meat is around 150% more GHG-intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.” Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food."

Go Veggie to Fight Global Warming, Says Expert - "One of the world's leading climate change gurus urged people to become vegetarian today, to help beat global warming. Nicholas Stern, the author of an influential 2006 review of climate change, said methane emissions from cows and pigs were putting "enormous pressure" on the world and people needed to think about what they ate. He told The Times: Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It put enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better." - Does Your Meal Come With a Side of Devastation?

How Meat Contributes to Global Warming - "Producing beef for the table has a surprising environmental cost: it releases prodigious amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases."

How to Reverse Climate Change Before It’s Too Late - "Now, there seems to be only one remaining pragmatic way to reverse climate change before it’s too late – and that’s by taking quick and large-scale actions in food, agriculture, and forestry."

Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns - "Livestock now use 30 per cent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 per cent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing."

Shun meat, says UN climate chief - "People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN's top climate scientist."

Want to stop climate change? Stop eating meat. - "For many years, advocacy of alternatives to livestock products has been based on arguments about nutrition and health, compassion for animals, and environmental issues other than carbon intensity. These arguments have mostly been ignored and the consumption of livestock products worldwide has increased, leading some to believe that such advocacy may never succeed."

Livestock's Long Shadow - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

10 Ways Vegetarianism can Help Save the Planet - "Overheating the planet: We humans eat about 230m tonnes of animals a year, twice as much as we did 30 years ago. We mostly breed four species – chickens, cows, sheep and pigs – all of which need vast amounts of food and water, emit methane and other greenhouse gases and produce mountains of physical waste."

Vegetarian diet is better for the planet, says Lord Stern - "Lord Stern of Brentford, former adviser to the government on the economics of climate change, said people will have to consider turning vegetarian to help reduce global carbon emissions. 'Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better,' Stern said."

UN Urges Global Move to Meat and Dairy-free Diet - “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.” © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at>