A groundbreaking study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment found that beef and farmed catfish have the greatest environmental impacts when it comes to animal-based protein production.
Researchers at the University of Washington took a comprehensive approach to evaluating the environmental impacts of various forms of animal agriculture. Ray Hilborn, the lead author for the study and a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, said:
From the consumer's standpoint, choice matters. If you're an environmentalist, what you eat makes a difference. We found there are obvious good choices, and really obvious bad choices.
Based on nearly a decade of analysis, the study found that while livestock production requires less energy than fish factory farms raising catfish, shrimp, and tilapia, its environmental impact is high because of runoff from animal excrement.
Bottom line: Killing animals is killing the planet.
This isn’t the first study to find that raising animals for food is terrible for the environment. In fact, a recent study from researchers at the University of Oxford found that ditching animal products could reduce your carbon footprint by 73 percent.
Similarly, a recent report from Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return found that the meat industry is jeopardizing the Paris climate agreement by failing to properly report its emissions, despite being the single largest contributor to climate change.
Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, carbon dioxide emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits. In fact, even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565-gigaton CO2e limit by 2030.
There is no such thing as “sustainable” meat, and plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs take a mere fraction of the resources to produce as their animal-based counterparts.
But a plant-based food isn’t just good for the planet—it also spares countless animals a lifetime of misery at factory farms. Pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and other farmed animals suffer horribly. From birth to death, these innocent animals are caught in a nightmare: crated and caged, cut and burned, and violently killed.
Just as there is no question that climate change is real, there is no question that killing animals for food is terrible for the planet. Join the millions of people helping protect farmed animals and the planet by eating more plant-based foods.