Food for Thought

“It shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility to figure out what’s cruel and what’s kind, what’s environmentally destructive and what’s sustainable. Cruel and destructive food products should be illegal. We don’t need the option of buying children’s toys made with lead paint, or aerosols with chlorofluorocarbons, or medicines with unlabeled side effects. And we don’t need the option of buying factory-farmed animals.”

– Jonathan Saffran Foer from Eating Animals

Below are some interesting statistics about the farmed animal and fishing industries. These facts demonstrate the huge, positive impact that one person can make by simply adopting a plant-based diet.


  • In an FDA report released in December of 2010 it was reported that the amount of antibiotics sold in the United States every year for use in agriculture is 28.8 million pounds. The FDA estimates human usage per year at slightly more than 7 million pounds. This means that roughly 80% of antibiotics are sold for use with animals. This poses the danger of antibiotics becoming ineffective for human use as resistant strains develop from overuse in factory farming.
  • Unfortunately, animal-based foods contain cholesterol but do not contain any fiber.
  • Plant-based foods contain NO cholesterol but plenty of healthy fiber.

The Environment

  • United Nations and Pew Commission studies show conclusively that farmed animals contribute more to climate change than all transportation does.
    • According to the UN, the livestock sector is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40% more than the entire transport sector (cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships) combined.
    • Animal agriculture is responsible for 37% of anthropogenic Methane, which offers 23 times the global warming potential of CO2
    • Animal agriculture is responsible for 65% of anthropogenic nitrous oxide, which provides 296 times the global warming potential of CO2
  • Farmed animals in the US produce 130 times as much waste as the human population. In a report compiled by the Minority Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry for Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) it was revealed that the 1.37 billion tons of solid animal waste produced every year in the U.S. is 130 times greater than the amount of human waste. This is a total of 5 tons of farmed animal waste for every human being in the country. To make matters worse, there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals.
  • According to a study by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research, omnivores contribute seven times the volume of greenhouse gases that vegans do.

Factory Farms

(Statistics are from Jonathan Saffran Foer’s book Eating Animals)

  • Less than 1% of the animals killed for meat in the US come from family farms.
  • % of each industry that is factory farmed (99% of all meat – because vastly more chickens are raised for meat than any other kind of animal) Souces: 2007 Census inventory and EPA regulations.
    • Chickens raised for meat: 99.94%
    • Chickens raised for eggs: 96.5%
    • Turkeys: 97.43%
    • Pigs: 95.41%
    • Cows raised for beef: 78.2%
    • Cows raised for dairy: 60.16%


  • The average shrimp trawling operation throws 80-90% of the sea animals it catches overboard, dead or dying, as bycatch. (Source: Environmental Justice Foundation)
  • Shrimp from Indonesia: 26 pounds of other sea animals are killed and tossed back into the ocean for every 1 pound of shrimp caught. (Source: Environmental Justice Foundation)

How Many Animals?

  • Most estimates for land animals killed for food in the U.S. are more than 8 billion per year. Seafood for US consumption results in more than 70 billion sea animals killed per year.
  • Combined, the number of animals who die per year for American consumption is approximately 80 billion, about 29 land animals per meat eater or 270 animals per meat eater when sea animals are also included.
  • Based on an average lifespan of 77 years, Americans eat (or cause the death of) the equivalent of 21,000 entire animals in a lifetime.