Growing Food For Animals, Not People
When we think of farmers growing crops, we imagine food for people. But 83% of all agricultural land around the world is used for livestock production. For every 100 grams of protein we put into feeding animals raised for food, we get back only 40 grams of protein from chicken, 10 grams of protein from pork, and just 5 grams of protein from beef. This is a colossal waste of resources. In fact, if we cut global meat consumption in half and used all of that farmland to grow fruits and veggies for people to eat directly—rather than growing corn and soy to feed to animals on factory farms—we could feed every single person on earth today, plus an extra 2 billion people! We just need to eat more efficiently, by eating lower on the food chain.
Producing all of that food takes huge amounts of land. In fact, over a quarter of all arable land around the world is being used to raise livestock. This is one of the leading causes of deforestation. It’s particularly bad in the Amazon rainforest, where 65% of Amazon deforestation is to make grazing land for beef cattle, or land to grow corn and soy for animals on factory farms. Since meat production is a leading cause of deforestation and habitat destruction, it’s also a leading cause of wildlife extinction.
Livestock produces 60% of agriculture’s GHGs despite providing only 37% of our protein. Why is meat such a powerful driver of climate change? Ruminant animals like cows and sheep burp methane, which is 28 times more potent than CO2. The feces from the billions of animals releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 256 times more potent than CO2. And all of the deforestation for grazing land decreases the number of trees removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Citations for all facts are available at www.ffacoalition.org/enviro_leaflet_citations