In this article we visualize the number of domesticated animals that we kill annually for their meat. The data is from 2017 and it does not include the number of animals killed for their skin or by indigenous people.
The numbers are staggering. In the year of 2017 alone, over 66 billion chickens were killed, that’s about 8.6 times the whole human population. Less known fact that there are nearly 3 million camels killed annually for food as well.
Meat consumption has been steadily growing in the past century. Since 1960’s humans eat nearly double the amount. 24.2 kg of meat / person in 1964 and all the way to 41.3 kg in 2015. Additionally the world population has more than doubled since adding to the size of the meat industry and the number of animals we kill to sustain the growth in demand.
Why is this Important?
1. Land Requirements of Livestock
Domesticated animals require vast lands. 26 percent of the Planet’s ice-free land is used for livestock grazing while 33 percent of croplands generate food to feed them. That’s a total of 59% land without ice that’s needed to produce meat. Nature and humans remain with 41% and due to the increase in farmlands this number shrinks every year. We lose 13 billion hectares of forest each year because of this.
According to Global Environmental Change Volume 47, a shift towards plant based diet would result in a 64% reduction in land use, and 73% reduction in GHG emissions.
2. Water Consumption of Livestock
A cow drinks an average of 32 liters (8.5 gallons) of fresh water a day (at an average of 15.5 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit). Multiplied by the number that are killed annually that’s 9,741,275,456 liters (2,573,372,730 gallons) of daily water consumption of the cows alone (not counting the dairy cows which have much higher need of water, nor any other species).