The average American eats over 200 pounds of meat per year. That may not seem like a whole lot – I mean it’s protein, right? Animal agriculture in the United States is a booming business and meat consumption is at an all time high. But when you find out how many resources go into making just a pound of meat, the numbers can add up quickly.

  • It takes 518 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of chicken.
  • It takes 718 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of pork.
  • It takes over 1,800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef.

1,800 gallons is about how much water is used in a 370-minute shower (that’s over six hours of showering).

According to the USDA, agriculture uses about 80-90 percent of our total water consumption in the United States. On a worldwide scale, animal agriculture is responsible for 20-30 percent of all fresh water consumption.

That’s just the water usage of meat. Unfortunately, that is just one of the many downsides to the meat industry.


Photo courtesy of Cowspiracy

Some of the other facts include:

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of CO2 emissions. By comparison, transportation accounts for 13 percent of emissions.
  • Cows produce 150 billion gallons of methane per day. In the U.N. press release after the multi-national climate summit, they stated “reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.”
  • According to a World Bank study, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91 percent of deforestation in the Amazon.

I’m sure you are starting to get the idea.

I’m not trying to tell you that you have to go vegan tomorrow – I’m not even a vegan. It is just important to be aware of these things and make more informed lifestyle choices. It could be easier than you think. For example, just try subbing almond milk for cow’s milk, or opt for tofu over chicken (seriously, it’s not that bad). There’s even vegan ice cream.


Photo courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s

So you don’t have to give up meat completely, but maybe try giving it up once or twice a week. Small steps like that can make a bigger impact than you think. Also, there are tons of vegan and vegetarian foods that are just as tasty as your hamburger. Things like sneakily vegan cookieseasy soups, and even mac and cheese.

The environment is just one reason to try and stick to a more plant based diet. If you are really keen on your meat-eating ways, however, try and stick to more local meats and dairy instead of factory farms. The animals and the earth will thank you.