Animal Agriculture, Environmental Impacts of Different Diets


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



The effectiveness of a shift to plant-based diets

Leaked IPCC Report Statement

food security

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

methane higher from grass-fed


amount of land used



world hunger solutions


palm seed oil for animal feed, soya for animal feed, myth that animal feed is always inedible for humans

pesticides in animal produce

plastics in animal feed

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

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

Water pollution

Antibiotic resistance

Air pollution

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

The effectiveness of a shift to plant-based diets



Leaked IPCC Report Statement


Meat, the “world’s most urgent problem”


food security

“Crises related to extreme weather events, COVID-19 and the Russia–Ukraine conflict have revealed serious problems in global food (inter)dependency. Here we demonstrate that a transition towards the EAT-Lancet’s planetary health diet in the European Union and the United Kingdom alone would almost compensate for all production deficits from Russia and Ukraine while yielding improvements in blue water use (4.1 Gm3 yr−1), greenhouse gas emissions (0.22 GtCO2e yr−1) and carbon sequestration (17.4 GtCO2e).”


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


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

“we need animal agriculture to enable plant-agriculture” – false in our system! (and more myths)

propaganda techniques

Lobbyism and perversions of science

US Professor Frank Mitloehner funded with millions of dollars by the animal agriculture industry claims that methane from cattle is not a problem


Revealed: How the livestock industry funds the ‘greenhouse gas guru’

Lobbyism in the UN

“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.”

Propaganda from This Morning

Misinformation by the Scottish Farmers’ Union


Funding of research by the animal farming industry

Pro-dairy health studies are funded by the dairy industry

How Big Meat and Dairy Fund Misleading Health Research to Fatten Their Wallets



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




Here are examples of veganic farming – the amount of humus increases annually (from about 9:30). You will need turn on subtitles in YouTube to English unless you speak German for the first one:

Veganic farming in the UK

Romania (German)


80% of soya used for animal feed



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

plastic in animal feed

“It seems that – at least part of the – former food products, including  from supermarkets, are processed into livestock feed with packaging and all. This is not only detrimental to animal welfare, but perhaps also to ourselves. Most likely, almost every steak and burger contains small pieces of plastic.”

“Several BPs were found in animal feed plastic packaging and BPA was predominant.

BPA was found to migrate from plastic packaging into solid animal feed.

BPA levels in packaging and contact time were the main factors determining migration.”

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

Agribusiness & Deforestation

WWF: Cattle ranching accounts for 80% of current deforestation throughout the Amazon.

The World Bank concluded that animal agriculture is actually responsible for 90% of Amazon Rainforest destruction.

land-use inefficiency

The animal agriculture industry grows grains, vegetables and soy to fatten up farmed animals destined for slaughter. The U.S. alone could feed 800 million people with the food grown to fatten up farmed animals.

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

Worldwide, we could feed 11 billion people if we fed plants directly to humans instead of fattening up farmed animals:

“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.”

The American Institute of Biological Sciences stresses the need to shift to a plant based diet to address the climate change emergency. This paper was signed by 11,000 scientists:
“Eating mostly plant-based foods while reducing the global consumption of animal products (figure 1c–d), especially ruminant livestock (Ripple et al. 2014), can improve human health and significantly lower GHG emissions (including methane in the “Short-lived pollutants” step). Moreover, this will free up croplands for growing much-needed human plant food instead of livestock feed, while releasing some grazing land to support natural climate solutions (see “Nature” section). Cropping practices such as minimum tillage that increase soil carbon are vitally important. “

“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”

New analysis shows 40% of the UK’s most productive agricultural land is used to grow food for farm animals instead of people.

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.


Changes in environmental organisations’ narratives towards plant-based diets:

Note that the film “cowspiracy” came out in 2014, i.e. before most of these.


Grazing Mimicry – Holistic Management / regenerative agriculture and its myths

Holistig grazing was first espoused by Allan Savory

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

Overview of peer-reviewed articles and criticisms of regenerative agriculture claims


Criticisms of “regenerative farming” et al

“Dr. Sylvia Fallon of the Natural Resources Defense Council has shown, symbiosis between grazing herds and grasses has historically worked best to sequester carbon when the animals lived the entirety of their lives within the ecosystem, their carcasses rotted and returned their accumulated nutrients into the soil, and human intervention was minimal to none. It is unclear, given that Savory has identified this type of arrangement as his ecological model, how marketing cattle for food would be consistent with these requirements. Cows live up to 20 years of age, but in most grass-fed systems, they are removed when they reach slaughter weight at 15 months. Cheating the nutrient cycle at the heart of land regeneration by removing the manure-makers and grass hedgers when only 10 percent of their ecological “value” has been exploited undermines the entire idea of efficiency that Savory spent his TED talk promoting. ”

“Savory’s narrative is compelling if you accept his idea that deserts are but rarely natural. For him ground that is bare, without grass, is desert and desert is not natural. However, deserts are indeed natural, and they are not simply bare ground areas. Secondly, he believes that deserts and desertification are the same thing. They are not. In fact there is much dispute over the definition of desertification. Wikipedia says there are over a hundred definitions.”

Deserts are indeed natural. They have existed for millions of years before any human influence. They have their own ecosystems, and they, like grasslands, can be degraded

“In Savory’s universe, ungrazed land, known as “rested” land, will always wither away. “It’s just wrong,” said Brewer. A substantial number of studies on desert grassland have found that with rest, grass cover “increases dramatically,” while “intensive grazing delays this recovery.”

“There are relatively few (11) peer-reviewed studies on the effects of holistic grazing that are
‘approved’ by the Savory Institute, i.e., included
in Savory Institute Research Portfolio”

“Three quantitative meta-analysis models were used to assess data sets from literature between 1972 and 2016. Weighted mean differences (effect sizes) between HPG and continuous grazing showed that there was no difference in plant basal cover, plant biomass and animal gain responses (p > 0.05). Thus, from the balance of studies, if animal impact is occurring during HPG, it has no effect on production. As interesting as the overall result is the significant between-study heterogeneity assessed using Cochran’s Q (p = 0.007 to <0.0001). Studies with positive effect sizes tended to have higher precipitation (p < 0.05), suggesting that only some rangelands have the resources to support HPG. ”

Decline of elk and neocolonial aspects of “grass-fed”

Another Savory lie – bison more abundant that current cattle numbers:

Bison numbers historically: 30-60 million estimated pre 1800 (back then there was far more optimal sequestering of carbon with much greater natural forest cover, the human population was much smaller and “extraction” of bison for meat on a much lower scale than today’s slaughter rate of animals. Basically the system is being robbed of nutrients).

Cattle and calves in the USA 2001 2021
93.8 million–since-2001/


Case study funded by Quantis (worked for Nestlé to promote plastic bottles in national parks)


Criticisms of above study

Another Failed Attempt to Greenwash Beef


Debunk of veganism is worse for the environment


Methane higher from grass-fed than grain-fed

“Increased methane emissions of grass-fed cattle are also an unavoidable result of ruminant digestion, as cows fed a natural diet of grass, hay, and other forages produce three times more methane than cows fed corn and grains (the traditional diet on intensive industrial or “factory” farms.)
The study notes other environmental harms that would likely result from a shift to all or mostly grass-fed beef production, including wildlife habitat loss from greater land use, fresh water eutrophication, soil erosion, the suppression of native vegetation from overgrazing, and increased nitrous oxide emissions.
The researchers conclude, “Given the environmental tradeoffs associated with raising more cattle in exclusively grass-fed systems, only reductions in beef consumption can guarantee reductions in the environmental impact of US food systems.”
Nationwide Shift to Grass-Fed Beef Requires Larger Cattle Population.


Breeding for maximum profit:

Material Guide: How Sustainable and Ethical Is Wool?

New Report Debunks Myth That Wool Is Eco-Friendly: ‘Nothing About It Is Sustainable’

“There’s a groundswell of truly sustainable and inspiring circumfaunal material out there, but cutting through the wool industry’s well-funded mythology is no easy task,” said Joshua Katcher, founder of the CIRCUMFAUNA initiative and co-author of the report. “We need to have an honest discussion about wool’s outsized impact on biodiversity loss and climate change and transition to plant-derived and high-tech innovative materials that don’t take such a big toll on native species and the climate.”


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.”


myth that animal feed is always inedible for humans

Whole soybeans recommended for dairy cattle:
“Whole soybeans (WSB) can be used in dairy cow rations; they are palatable and have excellent feed value. WSB have lower protein content than soybean meal, but because of higher fat, have higher net energy content.”
Whole soybean animal feed for sale:
Whole oats are also a large portion of animal feed:
Here’s an example:
Field corn has a few uses (cornstarch, ethanol, etc), but is widely used for feed. It makes up 99% of the grown in the U.S. Leaving only 1% (sweet corn), grown for human consumption.
Here, TX states that 96% of their corn is used exclusively for animal feed:

Ackerbohnen sind fĂŒr Menschen essbar:

Die heimische Ackerbohne


Mischkulturen fĂŒr Tierfutter: Mais-Stangenbohnen-Gemisch und Phasingehalt


Industrial livestock farming percentage


Water pollution

UK swimming spots near livestock farms highly polluted. The farmers and water authorites are increasingly allowed through deregulation to be self-policing and the number of incidents has shot up accordingly

Antibiotic resistance

Suppliers of beef to McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Walmart are sourcing meat from US farms using antibiotics linked to the spread of dangerous superbugs. See also:

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 jĂ€hrlich (ab ca 09:30)


Vom Umweltbundesamt

3.7 Steckbrief: Biozyklisch-veganer Anbau
Kategorie: Vorleistung, Produktion
Beschreibung: Der biozyklisch-vegane Anbau (auch â€șveganer Ökolandbauâ€č oder â€șbio-vegane Landwirtschaftâ€č), im Englischen â€șBiocyclic vegan farmingâ€č, â€șbiodynamic vegan agricultureâ€č oder â€șveganic agricultureâ€č (als Kombination von â€șveganâ€č und â€șorganicâ€č), verzichtet beim ökologischen Anbau veganer Lebensmittel vollstĂ€ndig auf Tierhaltung und den Einsatz tierischer oder synthetischer Betriebsmittel. Damit entfĂ€llt beispielsweise die Verwendung von GĂŒlle, Mist, Jauche oder SchlachtabfĂ€llen als DĂŒngemittel.
Ziel und Innovation: Der Großteil landwirtschaftlicher Betriebe setzt bei der Produktion veganer Lebensmittel auf den Einsatz tierischer oder synthetischer DĂŒngemittel. Auch die biologische Landwirtschaft ist hĂ€ufig mit Nutztierhaltung verbunden. Beim Bioverband Demeter ist die Haltung von Raufutterfressern sogar verpflichtend und kann nur in AusnahmefĂ€llen entfallen124. Durch die Tierhaltung entstehen weltweit massive UmweltschĂ€den, die ĂŒber einen erhöhten FlĂ€chenbedarf, die SchĂ€digung von Boden und Grundwasser bis hin zu negativen Auswirkungen auf das Klima reichen. Laut einer Studie der FAO sind ĂŒber 14 Prozent der weltweiten, durch den Menschen verursachten Treibhausgase auf die Tierhaltung zurĂŒckzufĂŒhren125.
Gleichzeitig ist die Nachfrage nach vegetarischen und veganen Produkten auch in Deutschland messbar. Den Daten des Instituts fĂŒr 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“. HĂ€ufig sind sich diese Konsumenten und Konsumentinnen veganer Lebensmittel nicht darĂŒber bewusst, dass auch diese Lebensmittel im engeren Sinne ĂŒberwiegend nicht-vegan produziert werden. In der Regel werden Betriebsmittel tierischen Ursprungs, wie Blut-, Horn-, Haar-, Feder- oder Knochenmehle verwendet. Die gesundheitlichen Bedenken dieser ökologischen DĂŒngerpellets sind groß. Sie können mit Keimen, Antibiotika und Schwermetallen belastet sein. Beim biozyklisch-veganen Anbau wird auf tierischen DĂŒnger und Betriebsmittel tierischen Ursprungs komplett verzichtet.127 Stattdessen wird ein hoher Wert auf einen gezielten Humusaufbau auf pflanzlicher Basis gelegt, der ĂŒber Kompostierung in Verbindung mit GrĂŒndĂŒngung und Mulchen erreicht werden kann. Stammen die fĂŒr den Humusaufbau verwendeten Pflanzenreste dabei aus dem eigenen Betrieb, der Gemeinde oder der Region, so ergeben sich dadurch ebenso kĂŒrzere 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 PflanzennĂ€hrstoffe in der aus Oliventrester-Kompost hervorgegangenen Humuserde ansteigen128. Da die NĂ€hrstoffe in der Humuserde nicht mehr wasserlöslich seien, stĂŒnden sie der Pflanze vollstĂ€ndig zur VerfĂŒgung ohne eine ÜberdĂŒngung herbeizufĂŒhren, 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 WerbetrĂ€geranalyse CODEBUCH. S. 80. https://www.ifd- (27.01.2020) 127 Vegconomist (2019): Im Interview mit dem Förderkreis Biozyklisch-Veganer Anbau e.V. ĂŒber 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 ErnĂ€hrungssystems – NEuropa
Dr. Johannes Eisenbach, Vorstand vom Förderkreis Biozyklisch-Veganer Anbau e.V.129. Eine Studie zum Anbau von Tomaten bestĂ€tigt diese Beobachtungen. Tomatenpflanzen, die in Humuserde wuchsen warfen einen bis zu 45% höheren Ertrag, als Pflanzen, die gar nicht oder mit anorganischem DĂŒngemittel behandelt wurden130. Zudem verbessert sich die Pflanzengesundheit und durch die Humuserde kann mehr Kohlenstoff im Boden gebunden werden. 131


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