Facts

Emissions

Livestock agriculture contributes up to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Vermeulen S. J., Campbell B. M., Ingram J. S. I., Climate Change and Food Systems, Annual Review of Environment and Resources Vol. 37: 195-222 Published November 2012. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-environ-020411-130608
50% of Australian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from livestock agriculture.
Wedderburn-Bishop G., Longmire A., Rickards L., “Neglected Transformational Responses: Implications of Excluding Short Lived Emissions and Near Term Projections in GHG Accounting”, The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume X (2015). http://ijc.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.185/prod.269

Methane is 86 times more powerful at warming the climate than carbon dioxide.
IPCC, 2013, ‘Fifth Assessment Report – Climate Change 2013, Chapter 8, ‘Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing’, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/
Livestock agriculture GHG emissions are greater than those from the entire global transport sector.
UNFAO, 2006 ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options’, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation & The Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative. http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
Phasing out beef, lamb and dairy reduces the cost of staying below 2 degrees of warming by 25% – only 1% more costly than that offered by a global transition to veganism.
Bryngelsson et al, 2017 ‘How Do Dietary Choices Influence the
Energy-System Cost of Stabilizing the Climate?’
, Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden. http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/10/2/182/htm

Water

Livestock agriculture uses approximately 30% of the world’s scarce fresh water.
Pimentel et al, Water Resources: Agricultural and Environmental Issues, BioScience 54 (10): 909-918. www.bioscience.oxfordjournals.org
Livestock agriculture uses up 32% of Australia’s fresh water and they tell us to take shorter showers when there’s a drought!
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Year Book Australia, 1301.0. www.abs.gov.au
One kilogram of beef requires 15,182 litres of water to produce on average in Australia, factoring on both grass fed and grain fed production systems calculated in proportion to the production volumes of each production system.
Mekonnen M. M. and Hoekstra A. Y., 2010, ‘The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products, Value of Water: Research Report Series No. 48, UNESCO Institute of Water Education. www.temp.waterfootprint.org
Eating a burger has the same water footprint as a month of daily showers. Here is how we arrived at this number.
According to Yarra Valley Water an efficient shower head pumps out 7 litters of water per minute. www.yvw.com.au
According to this Australian study of shower habits, the average shower duration is 7.19 minutes. Therefore average shower is 50 litres.
Average beef burger is around 100 grams (varies from 50 grams to 160 grams) based on what was on offer at Coles Online. This means the average water footprint of a hamburger is 1,518 litres, which amounts to 30 showers.

 

Land Use and Deforestation

Livestock agriculture drives 80% of deforestation worldwide.
Kissinger, G., M. Herold, V. De Sy. Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation: A Synthesis Report
for REDD+ Policymakers. Lexeme Consulting, Vancouver Canada, August 2012. www.cifor.org
Livestock agriculture takes up 58% of Australia’s land.
ABARES. 2010. Land Use of Australia, Version 4, 2005/2006 (September 2010 release). Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra, ACT.
Livestock agriculture uses a third of the world’s ice-free land.
UNFAO, 2006 ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options’, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation & The Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative. www.fao.org

 

 

Climatarian Diet

If meat consumption increases at current rates, by 2050 global GHG emissions from agriculture will have increased by 76%. If we all reduced meat consumption by 25%, it could result in a 51% decline in agricultural GHG emissions over the same period.
Popp, A, Lotze-Campen, H & Bodirsky, B 2010, ‘Food consumption, diet shifts and associated non-CO2 GHG from agricultural production’, Global Environmental Change vol. 20, pp. 451–462. www.dx.doi.org
In 2011, the average global per capita meat consumption was 116g per day. A 22% percent reduction to 90g a day; as recommended by the Harvard healthy eating guide, would potentially avoid 2.14 Gt CO2-e per year by 2030, a figure that increases when beef and lamb meat consumption is replaced by non-beef and lamb sources.
Bailey, R, Froggatt, A, & Wellesley, L 2014, Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector Global Public Opinion on Meat and Dairy Consumption, Energy, Environment and Resources | December 2014 , Chatham House, The Royal Institute for International Affairs, London. www.chathamhouse.org
By 2050, reducing meat and dairy consumption globally to within the range recommended by nutritional guidelines could potentially avoid up to 5.6 Gt CO2-e per year.
Bajželj, B, Richards, KS, Allwood, JM, Smith, P, Dennis, JS, Curmi, E & Gilligan, CE 2014, ‘Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation’ Nature Climate Change, vol. 4, pp. 924-929. www.dx.doi.org
A worldwide reduction of meat and dairy consumption to within healthy eating limits could reduce the costs of staying within a 2°C climate target by 50%.
Stehfest E, Bouwman, L, van Vuuren, DP, den Elzen, MGJ, Eickhout, B & Kabat, P 2008, ‘Climate Benefits of Changing Diet’, Climatic Change, no. 95, pp. 83-102. www.dx.doi.org
Without significant reductions in beef and lamb meat and dairy consumption, the growth in agricultural emissions will crowd out mitigation efforts in other sectors and render the 2°C target unrealisable.
Bajželj, B, Richards, KS, Allwood, JM, Smith, P, Dennis, JS, Curmi, E & Gilligan, CE 2014, ‘Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation’ Nature Climate Change, vol. 4, pp. 924-929. www.dx.doi.org
Hedenus, F, Wirsenius, S Johansson, DJA 2014, ‘The importance of reduced meat and dairy consumption for meeting stringent climate change targets’, Climatic Change vol. 124, pp. 79-91. www.dx.doi.org
The average Australian diet accounts for 14.5kg CO2-e per person per day, with red meat accounting for 8 kg CO2-e per person per day. Reducing beef and lamb meat consumption to 50g per day could reduce agricultural GHG emissions by 22%, while preventing incidences of colorectal cancer by over 10%.
Friel, S 2010, ‘Climate change, food insecurity and chronic diseases: sustainable and healthy policy opportunities for Australia’, NSW Public Health Bulletin, vol. 21, no. 5-6, pp. 129-133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/NB10019
Currently, livestock consume 36% of the calories produced by food-crops, with only 12% of those eventually finding their way into the human diet in the form of meat or dairy. If crops were grown exclusively for human consumption, it could increase food calories by 70% and feed an additional 4 billion people, with even a small change in the distribution of crops from livestock fodder to food dramatically increasing food availability.
Cassidy, ES, West, PC, Gerber, JS & JFoley, JA 2013, ‘Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare’, Environmental Research Letter, viewed 21 November 2015. www.dx.doi.org
In the UK, shifting from a high-meat to a low-meat diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 920 kg CO2-eper year; shifting from high-meat to vegetarian could reduce it by 1230 kg CO2-e per year; and shifting from high-meat to vegan could reduce it by 1560 kg CO2-e per year. As a point of comparison, an economy flight between London and New York would generate 960 kg CO2-e, while a family driving 6000 miles over ten years in a small car would generate 2440 kg CO2-e, roughly equivalent to two high-meat eaters switching to a vegetarian diet for a year.
Scarborough, P, Appleby, PN, Mizdrak, A Briggs, ADM, Travis, RC, Bradbury, KE, & Key, TJ 2014, Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK’, Climatic Change vol. 125, pp. 179-192. www.dx.doi.org
Taking the average GHG emissions reduction potential from six alternative diet scenarios, researchers in the UK calculated that a nationwide reduction of 1.78 kg CO2-e per person per day would be equivalent to 50% in exhaust emissions from the entire UK passenger car fleet.
Berners-Lee, M, Hoolohan, C, Cammack, H & Hewitt, CN, ‘The relative greenhouse gas impacts of realistic dietary choices’, Energy Policy, vol. 43, pp. 184-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2011.12.054

Learn More

As Seen On