A recent study by Oxford University found that moving from current diets to a diet that excludes animal products has transformative potential, such as:
4 The Planet
- Reducing food’s land use by 3.1 million ha (a 76% reduction), including a 19% reduction in arable land
- Food’s GHG emissions by 6.6 million metric tons of CO2eq (a 49% reduction)
- Acidification by 50%
- Eutrophication by 49%
- Scarcity-weighted freshwater withdrawals by 19% for a 2010 reference year
It’s widely accepted that Agriculture – together with forestry – accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. However emissions from agriculture are even more significant when the impact of activities is calculated over 20 years instead of the more common 100-year accounting approach. When considered from this perspective, agricultural emissions could account for as much as 54% of Australia’s total emissions.
The World Bank estimates that about 10 million square kilometres of forest have been lost since the beginning of the 20th century. It’s estimated that an area the size of Switzerland (38,300 km2) is lost to deforestation every year. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation around the world. For example, here in Queensland, 73% of all deforestation and land clearing is linked to beef production, and the number jumps to over 93% in Great Barrier Reef catchments. Forests are home to 80% of the world’s land based animals, and deforestation is the leading contributor to species extinction.
Animal agriculture puts a huge strain on our water resources and compromises our water security. It takes over 20 times more water to produce 1 kg of beef compared to 1 kg of rice, grains, beans, fruit and vegetables in Australia. It takes 800 litres of water to produce one litre of cow's milk, four times as much as it takes to make one litre of soy milk, and vegan households use less than a third of the water of the average Australian household.
54% of Australia’s continent is taken up by animal agriculture (mainly cattle, sheep & dairy). Less than 4% is used to grow plant foods for human consumption. This has a major effect on natural resources through the impact on water, soil, nutrients, plants and animals. Globally more than 80% of farmland is used for livestock, but it produces just 18% of food calories.