As population continues to grow, so does the demand for meat. But unfortunately, meat production is not a very efficient process. It requires a lot of energy, land, and water; and it contributes a great amount to climate change. It is estimated that livestock production contributes 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than transportation alone (Science News, 2007 ).
The production of greenhouse gases in animal agriculture stems from a number of sources, but surprisingly the largest amount comes from the production of the livestock’s feed. To produce 1 kg of beef, approximately 36.4 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted solely from the production and transportation of feed. Annually, this adds up to .8 metric tons of carbon dioxide (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2008).
Deforestation is another leading problem in animal agriculture. The more feed needed, the more land that is cleared for either grazing or growing feed crops. In Latin America, pasture expansion is the leading cause of deforestation and it has even begun to expand into the rainforest (Chicago Tribune, 1991). Cattle primarily feed on soybeans and corn, in fact they consume about 80% of the world’s soybean crop and half of it’s corn (Environmental Health Perspectives, 2008).
Overall, the production of animal protein requires 11 times the amount of energy in fossil fuels than plant protein (Malik et. al 2015)