Animal agriculture is resource intensive and inherently wasteful.
Animal products use:
- thousands of litres of water per kg of produce
- one third of all arable land for feed crop production
- multiple kg of feed to produce a single kg of meat
- several times the land footprint compared to crops
- a much greater energy input than energy output
Animals cannot convert resources into useful produce at high efficiencies, wasting vast amounts of energy, crops, water and land. This effectively means that huge losses occur before waste in the supply chain or by the consumer have even happened.
Additionally, livestock production is responsible for 8 - 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, depending on what types of meat are included and whether embedded sources such as feed production and deforestation are taken into account. Poorly managed production leads to land degradation and water contamination, and is associated with bacterial antibiotic resistance.
While we need to address all types of waste across the food system and increase food equity, reducing the consumption of animal products will free up precious resources that can be used to grow the crops suitable to feed current and future populations.
The challenge of changing our relationship with animal based food can be contentious and strikes at the heart of social norms ingrained in many cultures. However, many people successfully reduce their meat consumption or become vegetarian or vegan happily and healthily with the help of many information resources and recipes. In some cases, whole communities adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. Technology is also delivering new plant based foods to replace animal produce, publicity stunts are raising awareness and chefs are catching on.