Why is meat harmful to the environment

Why eating meat destroys the environment

The meat industry not only harms animals and people, but is also partly responsible for massive problems such as climate change, waste of resources and environmental pollution.

Climate change

Animal husbandry produces extremely large amounts of the three most harmful greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. The emissions arise on the one hand directly through the excretion of the billions of chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows in intensive animal husbandry and on the other hand indirectly through the production processes of animal husbandry and the deforestation of forests for pasture and feed cultivation.

environmental pollution

Intensive animal husbandry causes huge amounts of pollutants year after year. These include the fine dust from animal stalls, which leads to 50,000 deaths in Germany every year, as well as enormous amounts of animal excretions, which are spread on the fields as liquid manure and can then end up in our groundwater uncleared. The antibiotics administered to the animals are often excreted unchanged. They are spread with the liquid manure on agricultural areas and can thus get into the groundwater untreated and lead to antibiotic resistance.

Waste of land

50 percent of the world's harvests are wasted as animal feed. 83 percent of the land is used inefficiently to open up new pastureland or to grow grain and soy for animals that are subsequently killed. In this way, however, only 18 percent of the calories and 37 percent of the proteins required by humans are produced. If crops such as wheat or soy did not make a detour via the animal's stomach and agricultural areas were not converted into pastures, far more people could be supplied with less land. In addition, the production of animal products requires a lot more energy and space than vegetable products.

Wasted water

Around 86 percent of the water used worldwide is used to grow food. Half of this food - and thus most of the water - ends up in the animal troughs. The meat industry swallows a particularly large amount. One kilo of meat contains around 15,500 liters of water. You could use it to shower every day for a year.

Waste of energy

Intensive livestock farming needs large amounts of energy to keep its machinery running: This includes electricity for feed production, to process animals on assembly lines and to cool, process, pack and transport their remains.


In South America alone, almost 40 percent of the rainforest has been cleared in four decades to make space for pastureland or for the cultivation of forage plants. 70 percent of the destruction in the Amazon is due to the animal industry. This means that animal husbandry is not only damaging the global climate, but is also exterminating many animal and plant species.