Animal factory farms have allowed a huge increase in global meat eating in recent years. Assembly-line animal factories use enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate greenhouse gases and use mega tonnes of feed grains, which has meant destruction of vast swathes of the world’s tropical rainforests to grow them.
Today, we eat twice the amount of meat we ate 45 years ago. In 1961, the world ate 71 million tonnes of animal flesh. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tonnes. Meat production is expected to double again by 2050.
About a third of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. It also estimates that meat production makes nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.
A study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that producing one kilogram of beef emits the same amount of CO2 as an average car travelling 250 km.