Animal Agriculture, Omnivorous Diets and Environmental Impacts

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A source of research links into how animal agriculture and diets impact the environment


carbon opportunity cost (ignored by FAO report) and direct GHG output

myths spread by animal farming institutions and other lobbyists / Lobbyism in general

comparison of sequestration potentials of grassland and forest

veganic agriculture recognised by Bundesumweltamt (German environment administration)

holistic management

regenerative agriculture debunk

amount of land used


world hunger solutions


palm seed oil for animal feed, soya for animal feed

pesticides in animal produce

industrial livestock farming percentage

killing of wild animals to protect livestock

veganic agriculture

IPCC underplay intensity of climate change

Debunk of veganism is worse for the environment

Contra argument – methane

46% of oceanic debris comes from discarded fishing nets and other equipment

Air pollution

Pesticides and other human-induced toxins in land animals and fish



Meat, the “world’s most urgent problem”


carbon opportunity cost – ignored by FAO report – plus direct GHG output is 30%+ contribution to greenhouse gas emissions




comparison of sequestration potentials of grassland and forest: forest does better


Widespread Adoption of Plant-Based Diets Required for Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

Widespread global adoption of plant-based diets and other changes are needed to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a report published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers note that behaviors around diet account for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, reducing consumption of animal products would use less water and land and reduce consumption of saturated fats. Meat consumption in America and Europe would need to drop by 79% and 68%, respectively in order to reach international emission goals. The authors recommend policies that decrease affordability of unhealthful foods like meat by removing subsides on livestock, for example, while increasing affordability of healthful, plant-based foods.

Marteau TM, Chater N, Garnett EE. Changing behaviour for net zero 2050. BMJ. 2021;375:n2293. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n2293t


IPCC underplay intensity of climate change (e-g- they didn’t incorporate mitigtion through regained land and rewilding in 2019 report)

carbon opportunity costs of animal agriculture


comparison of sequestration potentials of grassland and forest: forest does better



myths spread by animal farming institutions and other lobbyists / Lobbyism:

“we need animal agriculture to enable plant-agriculture” – false!


“The UN Food Systems Summit (UN FSS), taking place this week in New York, aims to make global agricultural systems more sustainable, billing itself as a transformational “people’s summit”.

But documents obtained by Greenpeace Unearthed – the investigative arm of environmental NGO Greenpeace – and seen by the Guardian, show livestock industry bodies threatening to withdraw if others in their discussion group at the summit do not share their “common goal”.

“the UN FSS should not have given “incumbent industries a platform to deny or minimise the scientific consensus”.

““It started with the meat industry itself, and then included people who wish to softly transition from the current system. Only towards the end were more critical voices invited.”


veganic agriculture recognised by Bundesumweltamt (German environment administration)

translation to English:

3.7 Profile: biocyclic vegan cultivation
Category: preliminary work, production
Description: The biocyclic vegan cultivation (also ›vegan organic farming‹ or ›organic vegan agriculture‹), in English ›biocyclic vegan farming‹, ›biodynamic vegan agriculture‹ or ›veganic agriculture‹ (as a combination of ›vegan‹ and ›organic ‹), Completely dispenses with animal husbandry and the use of animal or synthetic resources in the organic cultivation of vegan foods. This eliminates, for example, the use of liquid manure, dung, liquid manure or slaughterhouse waste as fertilizer.
Objective and innovation: The majority of farms rely on the use of animal or synthetic fertilizers in the production of vegan foods. Organic farming is also often associated with livestock farming. At the Demeter Organic Association, the keeping of roughage eaters is even mandatory and can only be omitted in exceptional cases124. Animal husbandry causes massive environmental damage worldwide, ranging from increased land requirements, damage to soil and groundwater to negative effects on the climate. According to a study by the FAO, over 14 percent of global human-caused greenhouse gases can be traced back to animal husbandry125.
At the same time, the demand for vegetarian and vegan products can also be measured in Germany. According to the data from the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy, 7.6% of consumers are “vegetarians or people who largely forego meat” 126. Another 1.1% are “vegans or people who largely avoid animal products”. These consumers of vegan foods are often not aware that these foods, too, are predominantly produced in a non-vegan manner in the narrower sense. As a rule, resources of animal origin such as blood, horn, hair, feather or bone meal are used. The health concerns of these ecological fertilizer pellets are great. They can be contaminated with germs, antibiotics and heavy metals. In the case of biocyclic vegan cultivation, animal fertilizers and operating materials of animal origin are completely avoided.127 Instead, high value is placed on the targeted build-up of humus on a plant basis, which can be achieved through composting in conjunction with green manure and mulching. If the plant residues used to build up the humus come from your own company, the municipality or the region, this also results in shorter transport routes. The fertility of the soil should also be promoted through a varied crop rotation, mixed crops and the cultivation of legumes such as grass clover, lupins and peas.
A field test in Greece showed that in the long term the nitrogen content and the content of other plant nutrients in the humus soil obtained from olive pomace compost increase128. Since the nutrients in the humus soil are no longer water-soluble, they are completely available to the plant without causing over-fertilization, so
124 Demeter e.V. (no year) Guidelines 2020. p. 54. guidelines/ guidelines_ overall.pdf (27.01.2020)
125 Gerber, P.J. et al. (2013): Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. P. 15.
126 INSTITUTE FOR DEMOSCOPY ALLENSBACH (undated). AW A 2016. Allensbacher market analysis advertising medium analysis CODEBUCH. P. 80. https: //www.ifd- (27.01.2020) 127 Vegconomist (2019): In an interview with the Förderkreis Biozyklisch-Veganeraner eV about the Organic vegan agriculture. October 31, 2019. die-bio-vegane-Landwirtschaft / (27.01.2020)
128 Biocyclic Park Kalamata, IFOAM ABM 2017. (2017). 5acI0 & feature = emb_logo, (27.01.2020)
TEXTS Niche Innovations in Europe for the Transformation of the Food System – NE Europe
Dr. Johannes Eisenbach, board member of the Association for Biocyclic Vegan Cultivation, 129. A study on the cultivation of tomatoes confirms these observations. Tomato plants that grew in humus soil produced up to 45% higher yields than plants that were not treated at all or treated with inorganic fertilizers130. In addition, plant health improves and the humus soil can bind more carbon in the soil. 131



Hier gibt es Beispiele regenerativen Biolandbaus – die Humusmenge steigt jährlich (ab ca 09:30)




80% of soya used for animal feed



91% der Zerstörung des Amazonas sind auf die Tierhaltung zurückzuführen. Nur etwa 2% der Soja aus diesem Prozess werden direkt für den menschlichen Verzehr verwendet. 80%+ in Tierfutter, das Reste als Öl für Industrie.

Das Soja in den veganen Produkten bei uns ist nicht GMO, wie beim Tierfutter der Fall ist, und kommt meist aus de EU. Fast immer bei BIO, sonst kommt einiges aus USA und hat daher gar nichts mit Abholzung zu tun.

Pesticides in animal produce including organic


toxins in fish

Drug residues


Agriculture, Use Of Land

41%+ in US used for animal agriculture


cowspiracy links

The Myth of “Organic meat is better for the environment” exposed:

Myth of grass fed-cows better for climate

loss of forests

land-use inefficiency

“Most strikingly, impacts of the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes, providing new evidence for the importance of dietary change”


“Results show that external greenhouse gas costs are highest for conventional and organic animal-based products….

The large difference of relative external climate costs between food categories as well as the absolute external climate costs of the agricultural sector imply the urgency for policy measures that close the gap between current market prices and the true costs of food.”


“There is also a highly unequal distribution of land use between livestock and crops for human consumption. If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein”

“If the world adopted a plant-based diet we would reduce global agricultural land use from 4 to 1 billion hectares”


60% of agricultural land in Germany for animal farming (German) – 52,8 % for animal feed, 60% of cereals for animal feed

comparison of “milks”

guardian summary


Studie: So viel Treibhausgas sparen Veganer:innen ein

Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss

loss of species diversity as catastrophic as climate change

33 species extinctions UK attributable to animal farming in the UK


UN report

The opportunity cost of animal based diets exceeds all food losses

The carbon opportunity cost of animal-sourced food production on land

solving world hunger by moving to plant-based agriculture

“There is also a highly unequal distribution of land use between livestock and crops for human consumption. If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein”


New WWF report says plant-based diets could help conserve and restore nature

Meat consumption is highest across high-income countries (with the largest meat-eaters in Australia, consuming around 116 kilograms per person in 2013). The average European and North American consumes nearly 80 kilograms and more than 110 kilograms, respectively.


“More than 95% of animals used for meat and dairy in the United States eat GMO crops”

“While a lot of GMO corn goes into processed foods and drinks, most of it is used to feed livestock, like cows, and poultry, like chickens.”

70% of GMO crops used for animal feed

“Over 70% of harvested GE biomass is fed to food producing animals, making them the major consumers of GE crops for the past 15 plus years.” (from 2013 but animal agriculture is increasing globally)


46% of oceanic debris comes from discarded fishing nets and other equipment


Comparison of transport-related damage with type of food


Which Diet Has the Least Environmental Impact on
Our Planet? A Systematic Review of Vegan,
Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diets

Bingli Clark Chai, Johannes Reidar van der Voort, Kristina Grofelnik , Helga Gudny Eliasdottir,
Ines Klöss and Federico J. A. Perez-Cueto *
Design & Consumer Behaviour Section, Department of Food Science, Faculty of Science,
University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 26, 1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
* Correspondence:
Received: 11 July 2019; Accepted: 24 July 2019; Published: 30 July 2019

Abstract: The food that we consume has a large impact on our environment. The impact varies significantly between different diets. The aim of this systematic review is to address the question: Which diet has the least environmental impact on our planet? A comparison of a vegan, vegetarian and omnivorous diets. This systematic review is based on 16 studies and 18 reviews. The included studies were selected by focusing directly on environmental impacts of human diets. Four electronic bibliographic databases, PubMed, Medline, Scopus and Web of Science were used to conduct a systematic literature search based on fixed inclusion and exclusion criteria. The durations of the studies ranged from 7 days to 27 years. Most were carried out in the US or Europe. Results from our review suggest that the vegan diet is the optimal diet for the environment because, out of all the compared diets, its production results in the lowest level of GHG emissions. Additionally, the reviewed studies indicate the possibility of achieving the same environmental impact as that of the vegan diet, without excluding the meat and dairy food groups, but rather, by reducing them substantially.



Grazing Mimicry – Holistic Management / regenerative agriculture

Criticisms of film promoting holistic grazing (Allan Savory et al) and regenerative agriculture: “Kiss the Ground” (available on Netflix)

OPINION: Is Documentary ‘Kiss The Ground’ Just A Last Ditch Effort To Keep Meat Relevant?


2020 White Oak Pastures and General Mills study

Criticisms of above study


Debunk of veganism is worse for the environment

Contra argument – methane

“the truth about cattle and methane emissions”



Palm seed from palm oil plantations used in animal feed

“Every year, over seven million tonnes of the stuff is dried and processed, ending up as feed stock for cattle, mostly in New Zealand and Europe.

The biggest importer is the European Union, which took in about 2.63 million tonnes in 2013, followed by New Zealand with 1.52 million tonnes.”

Industrial livestock farming percentage



Air pollution



killing of wild animals to protect livestock

The USDA Admits to Killing Over a Million Wild Animals Per Year to Protect Livestock



feeding the world

about 60 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock grazing.”

“Adopting plant-based diets would use less land, produce less greenhouse gas, and require less water. It would also play an important role in reducing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer and the associated costs of treatment and lost income. In fact, with a global burden of chronic disease projected to hit 56 per cent by 2050, dietary health will play an increasingly important role in economic management.”

In reality, the bulk of industrially produced grain crops (most yieldreduction in the study was found in grains) goes to biofuels and confinedanimal feedlots rather than food for the one billion hungry. The call todouble food production by 2050 only applies if we continue to prioritize thegrowing population of livestock and automobiles over hungry people.’t_End_Hunger


Hier gibt es Beispiel regenerativen Biolandbau – die Humusmenge steigt jährlich (ab ca 09:30)


Vom Umweltbundesamt

3.7 Steckbrief: Biozyklisch-veganer Anbau
Kategorie: Vorleistung, Produktion
Beschreibung: Der biozyklisch-vegane Anbau (auch ›veganer Ökolandbau‹ oder ›bio-vegane Landwirtschaft‹), im Englischen ›Biocyclic vegan farming‹, ›biodynamic vegan agriculture‹ oder ›veganic agriculture‹ (als Kombination von ›vegan‹ und ›organic‹), verzichtet beim ökologischen Anbau veganer Lebensmittel vollständig auf Tierhaltung und den Einsatz tierischer oder synthetischer Betriebsmittel. Damit entfällt beispielsweise die Verwendung von Gülle, Mist, Jauche oder Schlachtabfällen als Düngemittel.
Ziel und Innovation: Der Großteil landwirtschaftlicher Betriebe setzt bei der Produktion veganer Lebensmittel auf den Einsatz tierischer oder synthetischer Düngemittel. Auch die biologische Landwirtschaft ist häufig mit Nutztierhaltung verbunden. Beim Bioverband Demeter ist die Haltung von Raufutterfressern sogar verpflichtend und kann nur in Ausnahmefällen entfallen124. Durch die Tierhaltung entstehen weltweit massive Umweltschäden, die über einen erhöhten Flächenbedarf, die Schädigung von Boden und Grundwasser bis hin zu negativen Auswirkungen auf das Klima reichen. Laut einer Studie der FAO sind über 14 Prozent der weltweiten, durch den Menschen verursachten Treibhausgase auf die Tierhaltung zurückzuführen125.
Gleichzeitig ist die Nachfrage nach vegetarischen und veganen Produkten auch in Deutschland messbar. Den Daten des Instituts für Demoskopie Allensbach zufolge, handelt es sich bei 7,6 % der Verbraucher und Verbraucherinnen um „Vegetarier oder Leute, die weitgehend auf Fleisch verzichten“126. Weitere 1,1 % sind „Veganer oder Leute, die weitgehend auf tierische Produkte verzichten“. Häufig sind sich diese Konsumenten und Konsumentinnen veganer Lebensmittel nicht darüber bewusst, dass auch diese Lebensmittel im engeren Sinne überwiegend nicht-vegan produziert werden. In der Regel werden Betriebsmittel tierischen Ursprungs, wie Blut-, Horn-, Haar-, Feder- oder Knochenmehle verwendet. Die gesundheitlichen Bedenken dieser ökologischen Düngerpellets sind groß. Sie können mit Keimen, Antibiotika und Schwermetallen belastet sein. Beim biozyklisch-veganen Anbau wird auf tierischen Dünger und Betriebsmittel tierischen Ursprungs komplett verzichtet.127 Stattdessen wird ein hoher Wert auf einen gezielten Humusaufbau auf pflanzlicher Basis gelegt, der über Kompostierung in Verbindung mit Gründüngung und Mulchen erreicht werden kann. Stammen die für den Humusaufbau verwendeten Pflanzenreste dabei aus dem eigenen Betrieb, der Gemeinde oder der Region, so ergeben sich dadurch ebenso kürzere Transportwege. Die Bodenfruchtbarkeit soll zudem durch eine abwechslungsreiche Fruchtfolge, Mischkulturen und den Anbau von Leguminosen wie Kleegras, Lupinen oder Erbsen gefördert werden.
Ein Feldversuch in Griechenland konnte zeigen, dass auf lange Sicht der Stickstoffgehalt sowie der Gehalt weiterer Pflanzennährstoffe in der aus Oliventrester-Kompost hervorgegangenen Humuserde ansteigen128. Da die Nährstoffe in der Humuserde nicht mehr wasserlöslich seien, stünden sie der Pflanze vollständig zur Verfügung ohne eine Überdüngung herbeizuführen, so
124 Demeter e.V. (o.J.) Richtlinien 2020. S. 54. (27.01.2020)
125 Gerber, P.J. et al. (2013): Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. S. 15.
126 INSTITUT FÜR DEMOSKOPIE ALLENSBACH (o.J.). AW A 2016. Allensbacher Marktanalyse Werbeträgeranalyse CODEBUCH. S. 80. https://www.ifd- (27.01.2020) 127 Vegconomist (2019): Im Interview mit dem Förderkreis Biozyklisch-Veganer Anbau e.V. über die Bio-vegane Landwirtschaft. 31.Oktober 2019. die-bio-vegane-landwirtschaft/ (27.01.2020)
128 Biocyclic Park Kalamata, IFOAM ABM 2017. (2017). 5acI0&feature=emb_logo, (27.01.2020)
TEXTE Nischeninnovationen in Europa zur Transformation des Ernährungssystems – NEuropa
Dr. Johannes Eisenbach, Vorstand vom Förderkreis Biozyklisch-Veganer Anbau e.V.129. Eine Studie zum Anbau von Tomaten bestätigt diese Beobachtungen. Tomatenpflanzen, die in Humuserde wuchsen warfen einen bis zu 45% höheren Ertrag, als Pflanzen, die gar nicht oder mit anorganischem Düngemittel behandelt wurden130. Zudem verbessert sich die Pflanzengesundheit und durch die Humuserde kann mehr Kohlenstoff im Boden gebunden werden. 131


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