The Conscious Living Resolution

ADOPT A PLANT-BASED DIET/LIFESTYLE

We feel that making the transition to a plant-based diet & lifestyle takes first place as the most powerful super-strategy for promoting “wellbeing for the whole being.”

THE ANIMAL FOODS/PRODUCTS INDUSTRY CAUSES ENORMOUS HARM TO EVERY LEVEL OF OUR BEING...

It’s well established to be the #1 cause of…

human death and disease (in the large majority of the world)

world hunger and unequal food distribution

…the development of antibiotic resistant “superbugs”

…worldwide species extinction

…the untold suffering to the billions of animals who are raised and slaughtered in the industry every year

…greenhouse gas emissions and climate change

…destruction of our forests, rainforests, waterways and oceans

…water and air pollution

So making the transition to a plant-based lifestyle greatly benefits our “whole being” on every level…
…It’s an enormously powerful strategy that every one of us can begin doing right now with little more than a fork, some compassion, and a little determination…

HERE ARE SOME GOOD FILMS THAT OUTLINE MANY OF THESE ISSUES...

A short but informative video that summarizes many of these key issues:

A short video that balances the urgency of the situation with hope and inspiration:

A comprehensive infographic illustrating many of these key issues:

Feature-length documentaries that explore links between the consumption of animal products and harm to personal health, human society, our fellow Earthlings and the Earth (each film has a different emphasis):

NEED A HAND MAKING THE TRANSITION? TRY ONE OF THESE STARTER KITS...

A comprehensive book by one of the most experienced plant-based doctors in the field…

PETA’s free downloadable PDF starter kit…

Try the Physician’s Committee’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart…

2 comprehensive web-based Starter kits…

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Read on… for extensive details and research about the impacts of consuming animal products on every major domain of our wellbeing.

THE IMPACT ON OUR PERSONAL HEALTH

animal foods cause widespread disease and shortened lives

The large majority of cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented by adopting a plant based diet.

The China Project:  Colin T. Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and former senior science advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research, led a large team of researchers from Cornell and Oxford University to conduct one of the largest and most comprehensive nutrition studies ever done—the China Project (learn more here and here). This study concluded that “the vast majority, perhaps 80 to 90%, of all cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and other forms of degenerative illness can be prevented, at least until very old age, simply by adopting a plant-based diet.”

Dr Dean Ornish, in collaboration with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and other leading academic and health institutions, has developed the first robustly evidence based program for reversing heart disease and other related chronic conditions. The program essentially consists of strict adherence to a low-fat plant-based diet combined with regular exercise, stress management and social support.

Good introductory documentaries:  The documentaries Forks over Knives and What the Health? provide good starting points for a deeper look into these topics…

…and there is a very extensive body of research that provides further validates and details these findings (see below for a selection of this research).

Human populations around the world who consume the least animal products live the longest.

John Robbins looked more holistically at the issue of personal health by studying the diets and lifestyles of the five societies with the highest longevity in the world. He found that the same dietary pattern held true for all of them:

“They have each traditionally eaten low-calorie, plant-based, whole-foods diets” (p. 65). The Okinawans, in particular, are considered to be the healthiest and longest-living group of people ever thoroughly studied; and their diet consists of an unusually low percentage of animal products. Their average weekly diet consists of 49 servings of vegetables, 49 servings of whole grains, and 14 servings of soy products. They eat fish only 2 to 3 times per week, and eat virtually no dairy or other types of meat.

In sharp contrast, the diets of the younger generations of Okinawans have been heavily influenced by the West as a result of the tens of thousands of U.S. troops that have moved into the region in the past decades, and now contain much more animal products. Corresponding to this change in diet, the younger Okinawans now have the highest risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, and premature death of anywhere in Japan. As a result, we find the tragic situation in which “Okinawans in their forties and fifties…are more likely to die of heart attacks and cancer than their elders who are in their nineties and beyond” (Robbins, 2006, p. 108).

Robbins, J. (2006). Healthy at 100: How you can—at any age—dramatically increase your life span and your health span. New York: Random House.

We don’t need animal products to meet our dietary requirements. To the contrary, it’s generally easier to meet our full requirements of micronutrients and macronutrients on a whole foods plants-based diet.

A joint report from the World Health Organization [WHO] and the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] of the United Nations concluded:

“Households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods. The evidence that such diets will prevent or delay a significant proportion of non-communicable chronic diseases is consistent. A predominantly plant-based diet has a low energy density, and may protect against obesity.”

“Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements”. Report of a joint FAO/WHO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization].

 

The American Dietetic Association (ADA), the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, released a formal statement explaining their position on vegetarian and vegan diets, in which they concluded:

“It is the position of the ADA that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, and for athletes….An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.”

American Dietetic Association [ADA] (2009). Position of the American Dietetic  Association: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(7), 1266-1282. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.027.

One reason so many people find it so difficult to give up animal foods is because many of these foods are actually physiologically addictive.

Dairy addiction:  We have discovered that all milk, regardless of the species from which it comes, contains a form of opiates (known as casomorhpins), including literally morphine, the very same chemical known to be so addictive. These opiates are found particularly within casein, a protein contained within all types of milk and dairy products (Meisel & FitzGerald, 2000). While the function of these opiates is not fully understood (one theory is that they play a role in mother-infant bonding and in calming distressed infants), what has been well established is that these opiates do enter one’s bloodstream upon the consumption of dairy products, and are therefore just as likely to be as addictive as opiates from any other source. Cheese has a particularly high concentration of casomorphins, which is probably why so many people find cheese particularly difficult to give up.

Meat addiction:  Research has suggested that meat may also be physiologically addictive, although the mechanism of addiction in meat is not as clear as it is for dairy products. One study found that when participants were given the drug naloxone, which blocks opiate receptors, their craving for meat (which consisted of ham, salami, and tuna in this particular study) correspondingly diminished (Yeomans et al., 1990).

“What appears to be happening,” concluded Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “is that, as meat touches your tongue, opiates are released in the brain, rewarding you—rightly or wrongly—for your calorie-dense food choice and propelling you toward making a habit” (p. 63).

According to this research, then, the challenge of transitioning to a plant-based diet that many people experience may be compounded by a very real physiological addiction.

Barnard, N. (2003). Breaking the food seduction: The hidden reasons behind food cravings—and 7 steps to end them naturally. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

“Breaking the Cheese Addiction: Step 3 Cleansing the Palate”. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Meisel, H., & FitzGerald, R. (2000). Opioid peptides encrypted in intact milk protein sequences. The British Journal Of Nutrition, 84 Suppl 1S27-S31. 

Nguyen, Duc Doan, et al “Formation and Degradation of Beta-Casomorphins in Dairy Processing”. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2015 Dec 6; 55(14): 1955-1967

Following is a more extensive list of research further validating and detailing these benefits of a whole-foods plant-based diet...

cancer

The consumption of red and/or processed meat significantly increases the risk of developing many kinds of cancers, including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. Eating fish has been shown to increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer. The WHO has placed processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as smoking tobacco.

Aubrey, Allison. “Bad day for bacon: Processed Meats Cause Cancer WHO Says”. npr: the salt. Oct. 2015

Barnard RJ, Gonzalez JH, Liva ME, Ngo TH. Effects of a low-fat, high-fiber diet and exercise program on breast cancer risk factors in vivo and tumor cell growth and apoptosis in vitro. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):28-34.

Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, et al. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013;105:1132-1141.

“Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat”. The Lancet Oncology. Vol. 16. 2015  

Cho E, Chen WY, Hunter DJ, et al. Red Meat Intake and Risk of Breast Cancer Among Premenopausal Women. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(20):2253–2259. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.20.2253

Greger, M.D., Michael “Carnitine, Choline, Cancer, & Cholesterol: The TMAO Connection”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 13. April 26th, 2013

Hicks, Cheryl. “Give up dairy products to beat cancer”. The Telegraph. June 2014

“IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat”. World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer. PRESS RELEASE N.240. Oct. 2015

Inoue-Choi, Maki et al. “Red and processed meat, nitrite, and heme iron intakes and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study” International journal of cancer vol. 138,7 (2015): 1609-18.

Kim AE, Lundgreen A, Wolff RK, et al. Red meat, poultry, and fish intake and breast cancer risk among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic white women: The Breast Cancer Health Disparities Study. Cancer Causes Control. Published online February 22, 2016.

North-Hager E. Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking. University of Southern California Press Room. USC Web Services. Mar 4, 2014.

Ornish D, Weidner G, Fair WR, et al. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. J Urol. 2005;174(3):1065-9.

Taylor, E F et al. “Meat consumption and risk of breast cancer in the UK Women’s Cohort Study” British journal of cancer vol. 96,7 (2007): 1139-46.

Ute Nöthlings, Lynne R. Wilkens, Suzanne P. Murphy, Jean H. Hankin, Brian E. Henderson, Laurence N. Kolonel; Meat and Fat Intake as Risk Factors for Pancreatic Cancer: The Multiethnic Cohort Study, JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 97, Issue 19, 5 October 2005, Pages 1458–1465, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/dji292

Wolk A (Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden). Potential health hazards of eating red meat (Review). J Intern Med 2017; 281: 106–122.

Men with a high prognostic risk of prostate cancer who consume significant eggs and/or poultry skin have a 4-fold increased risk of cancer recurrence or progression.

The consumption of milk and other dairy products has been linked to an increased risk for a number of different types of cancers, especially breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Barnard, M.D., Neal D. “Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer”. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Chan, June M., et al “Dairy products, calcium and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Oct. 2001 vol. 74 no. 4 549-554

Gao, Xiang, et al “Prospective Studies of Dairy Product and Calcium Intakes and Prostate Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis”. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 23, Dec. 7, 2005

Hausen, Harold zur & Villiers, Ethel-Michele de “Daily cattle serum and milk factors contributing to the risk of colon and breast cancers”. International Journal of Cancer: 137, 959-967 (2015)

Karger “Consumption of Cow’s Milk and Possible Risk of Breast Cancer”. Breast Care (Basel). 2010 Mar; 5(1): 44-46

Kroenke, Candyce H, et al “High-and Low-Fat Dairy Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality After Breast Cancer Diagnosis”. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Volume 105, Issue 9, 1 may 2013

Malekinejad, Haasan & Rezabakhsh, Aysa “Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health – A Narrative Review Article”. Iranian Journal of Public Health. 2015 Jun; 44(6): 742-758″Risk factors for prostate cancer”. Canadian Cancer Society

Song, Y. et al. “Whole Milk Intake Is Associated with Prostate Cancer-Specific Mortality among U.S. Male Physicians”. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 143, Issue 2, 1 February 2013, Pages 189–196.

“Study Suggests Full-Fat Dairy Products May Be Linked to Worse Survival” BreastCancer.org

Tantamango-Bartley, Y. et al “Are strict vegetarians protected against prostate cancer?” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 1, 1 January 2016, Pages 153–160.

cardiovascular disease

Fats and cholesterols from animal meats, dairy and eggs are among the largest factors in the development of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, obesity and cardiovascular disease (stroke, heart attacks, etc.).

Baer, Heather J, et al “Risk Factors for Mortality in the Nurses’ Health Study: A Competing Risks Analysis”. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 173, No. 3

Burkitt DP. Western diseases and their emergence related to diet. S Afr Med J. 1982;61(26):1013-5.

Greger, M.D, Michael “Eggs vs. Cigarettes in Artherosclerosis”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 12. March 11th, 2013

Mcgill HC, Herderick EE, Mcmahan CA, et al. Atherosclerosis in youth. Minerva Pediatr. 2002;54(5):437-47.

Mcmahan CA, Gidding SS, Malcom GT, et al. Pathobiological determinants of atherosclerosis in youth risk scores are associated with early and advanced atherosclerosis. Pediatrics. 2006;118(4):1447-55.

Morris, Martha Claire, Tangney, Christine C, “Dietary fat composition and dementia risk”. Neurobiology of Aging. 2014 Sep; 35 Suppl 2: S59-S64

Savarese G, Rosano G, D’amore C, et al. Effects of ranolazine in symptomatic patients with stable coronary artery disease. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2013;169(4):262-70.

Shaper AG, Jones KW. Serum-cholesterol, diet, and coronary heart-disease in Africans and Asians in Uganda: 1959. Int J Epidemiol. 2012;41(5):1221-5.

Spence, J. David, et al “Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque”. Artheroslcerosis xxx (2012) 1-5

Strong JP, Mcgill HC. The pediatric aspects of atherosclerosis. J Atheroscler Res. 1969;9(3):251-65.

Thomas WA, Davies JN, O’neal RM, Dimakulangan AA. Incidence of myocardial infarction correlated with venous and pulmonary thrombosis and embolism. A geographic study based on autopsies in Uganda. East Africa and St. Louis, U.S.A. Am J Cardiol. 1960;5:41-7.

“Top Food Sources of Saturated Fat in the U.S.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

...but switching to a plant-based diet not only stops cardiovascular disease, but can actually reverse it.

Appel LJ, Brands MW, Daniels SR, et al. Dietary approaches to prevent and treat hypertension: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension. 2006;47(2):296-308.

Buttar, Harpal S, et al. “Prevention of cardiovascular diseases: Role of exercise, dietary interventions, obesity and smoking cessation”. Experimental and Clinical Cardiology. 2005 Winter; 10(4): 229-249

De paula TP, Steemburgo T, De almeida JC, Dall’alba V, Gross JL, De azevedo MJ. The role of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet food groups in blood pressure in type 2 diabetes. Br J Nutr. 2012;108(1):155-62.

Deardorff J. Top cardiologist touts vegan diet to patients. Chicago Tribune. Aug 16, 2014.

Ellis FR, Sanders TA. Angina and vegan diet. Am Heart J. 1977;93(6):803-5.

Esselstyn CB. A plant-based diet and coronary artery disease: a mandate for effective therapy. J Geriatr Cardiol. 2017;14(5):317–320.

Esselstyn CB. Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Plant-Based Nutrition. Prev Cardiol. 2001;4(4):171-177.

Esselstyn Jr, MD, Caldwell B, et al “A way to reverse CAD?”. The Journal of Family Practice. July 2014. Vol 63, No 7 

Goldhammer, D.C., Alan “High Blood Pressure”. T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. October 15, 1997

Gustafson, Craig “Alan Goldhammer, DC: Water Fasting-The Clinical Effectiveness of Rebooting Your Body”. Integrative Medecine: A Clinician’s Journal. 2014 Jun; 13(3): 52-57

“Halt heart disease with a plant-based, oil-free diet”. Harvard Health Publications

Kadoch MA. The power of nutrition as medicine. Prev Med. 2012;55(1):80.

Le LT, Sabaté J. Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: findings from the Adventist cohorts. Nutrients. 2014;6(6):2131-47.

Mcdougall J, Thomas LE, Mcdougall C, et al. Effects of 7 days on an ad libitum low-fat vegan diet: the McDougall Program cohort. Nutr J. 2014;13:99.

Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, et al. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA. 1998;280(23):2001-7.

Ornish, Dean, et al “Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial”. The Lancet. July 1990. Vol. 336 No. 8708 Pages 129-133

Ornish, MD, Dean, et al “Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease”. Journal of the American Medical Association. December 16th, 1998. Vol 280. No. 23

Sacks FM, Kass EH. Low blood pressure in vegetarians: effects of specific foods and nutrients. Am J Clin Nutr. 1988;48(3 Suppl):795-800.

Wang, Fenglei, et al “Effect of Vegetarian Diets on Blood Lipids: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials”. Journal of the American Heart Association. October 27th, 2015

Diabetes

A low fat, plant-based diet is the most effective diet for avoiding, controlling and/or reversing type 2 diabetes.

Barnard, Neal D, et al “A low-fat vegan diet elicits greater macronutrient changes, but is comparable in adherence and acceptibility, compared with a more conventional diabetes diet among individuals with type 2 diabetes”. Journal of The American Dietic Association. 2009 Feb; 109(2): 263-272

Barnard, Neal D, et al “A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-wk clinical trial”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009;89(suppl): 1588S-96S

Barnard, Neal, et al “Meat Consumption as a Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes”. Nutrients. 2014 Feb; 6(2): 897-910

Chiu, Tina H.T., et al “Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG”. PLoS ONE. 2014; 9(2): e88547

Micha, Renata, et al “Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes-An Updated Review of the Evidence “. Current Artherosclerosis Reports. 2012 Dec; 14(6): 515-524

Natale, MD, PHD, Claudia De, et al “Effects of a Plant-Based High Carbohydrate/High-Fiber Diet Versus High-Monounsaturated Fat/Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Postprandial Lipids in Type 2 Diabetic Patients”. Diabetes Care. 2009 Dec; 32(12): 2168-2173

North-Hager E. Meat and cheese may be as bad for you as smoking. University of Southern California Press Room. USC Web Services. Mar 4, 2014.

Tonstad, MD, PHD, Serena, et al “Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight, and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes”. Diabetes Care. 2009 May; 32(5): 791-796

Trapp CB, Barnard ND. Usefulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for treating type 2 diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2010;10(2):152-8.

It is the consumption of animal fats rather than excessive sugar that is the primary factor in the onset of type 2 diabetes. As little as one serving of meat per day can significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Ahmadi-Abhari, Sara, et al “Dietary intake of carbohydrates and risk of type 2 diabetes:  The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer-Norfolk Study”. British Journal of Nutrition: (2012) 111, 342-352

Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Green A, Ferdowsian H. A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-week clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1588S-1596S.

Barnard, Neal, et al “Meat Consumption as a Risk for Diabetes”. Nutrients. 2014 Feb: 6(2) 897-910

“Diet and Diabetes: Recipes for Success”. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Goff LM, Bell JD, So PW, Dornhorst A, Frost GS. Veganism and its relationship with insulin resistance and intramyocellular lipid. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59:291-298.

Greger, M.D, Michael “What Causes Insulin Resistance?” NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 33. January 6th, 2017

Kaushik M, Mozaffarian D, Spiegelman D, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul 22.

Micha, Renata, et al “Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes- An Updated Review of the Evidence”. Current artherosclerosis reports. 2012 Dec;14(6): 515-524

Pan, An, et al “Red meat Consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. August 2011 

Petersen, Kitt Falk, et al “Impaired Mitochondrial Activity in the Insulin- Resistant of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”. The New England Journal of Medicine 2004;  350: 664-671

Roberts, Christian K, et al “Effect of a diet and exercise intervention on oxidative stress, inflammation and monocyte adhesion in diabetic men”. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 73 (2006) 249-259

Life expectancy is reduced an average of 10 years for those with type 2 diabetes, and is reduced 20 years for those with type 1 diabetes.

Other
Dairy-Related Conditions

Contrary to popular belief, it appears that milk doesn’t strengthen bones and may actually weaken them—populations that consume the most dairy products (and other animal proteins) have the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures later in life.

Fish & Fish oil

• Leukemia (in the case of smoked or cured fish)

Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Green A, Ferdowsian H. A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-week clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1588S-1596S.

Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, et al. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013;105:1132-1141.

Dangour AD, Allen E, Elbourne D, et al. Effect of 2-y n23 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on cognitive function in older people: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial1–3. Am J Clin Nutr.

Dijkstra SC, Brouwer IA, van Rooij FJA, Hofman A, Witteman JCM, Geleijnse JM. Intake of very long chain n-3 fatty acids from fish and the incidence of heart failure: the Rotterdam Study. Eur J Heart Fail. 2009;11:922-928.

Goff LM, Bell JD, So PW, Dornhorst A, Frost GS. Veganism and its relationship with insulin resistance and intramyocellular lipid. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59:291-298.

Greger, M.D, Michael “Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 3. December 8th, 2009

Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, et al. Risks and benefits of omega-3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review. BMJ. 2006;332:752-760.

“How Fertilizers Harm Earth More Than Help Your Lawn”. Scientific American

Kaushik M, Mozaffarian D, Spiegelman D, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul 22.

Kim AE, Lundgreen A, Wolff RK, et al. Red meat, poultry, and fish intake and breast cancer risk among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic white women: The Breast Cancer Health Disparities Study. Cancer Causes Control. Published online February 22, 2016.

Kwak SM, Myung SK, Lee YJ. Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty acid supplements (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172:986-994.

Liu C, Hsu Y, Wu M, et al. Cured meat, vegetables, and bean-curd foods in relation to childhood acute leukemia risk: A population based case-control study. BMC Cancer. 2009;9:15. doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-15.

MacLean CH, Newberry SJ, Mojica WA, et al. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer risk: a systematic review. JAMA 2005;295:403-415.

Rizos EC, Ntzani EE, Bika E, Kostapanos MS, Elisaf MS. Association between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and risk of major cardiovascular disease events: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2012;308:1024-1033.

Romero, Jaime, et al “Antibiotics in Aquaculture-Use, Abuse and Alternatives”. Health and Environment in Aquaculture

Senges J. Omega-3 fatty acids on top of modern therapy after acute myocardial infarction (OMEGA). Report presented at: American College of Cardiology Annual Meeting; March 30, 2009: Orlando, FL.

Teng GG, Pan A, Yuan JM, Koh WP. Food sources of protein and risk of incident gout in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Arthritis Rheumatol. Published online March 25, 2015.

Fish and other animal seafoods contain particularly high levels of other human-produced environmental toxins.

Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides run into waterways, which bioaccumulate in fish, which are in turn passed into the humans who eat the fish, leading to various health problems.

“How Fertilizers Harm Earth More Than Help Your Lawn”. Scientific American

other toxins
in animal foods

Dioxin and closely related toxins are considered to be the most toxic class of chemicals known to science, and 93% of dioxin exposure comes from eating animal products.

In meats and other animal foods (including fish), dioxins bioaccumulate to the point of being up to 100,000 times the concentration of that existing in the surrounding environment. Animal foods contain between 4 and 20 times as much dioxin as plant-based foods.

Mothers pass a large amount of their own dioxin store to their infants across the placenta (leading to developmental defects) and through her breast milk, delivering as much as half of her accumulated dioxin store to her first child.

Aliyu MH, Alio AP, Salihu HM. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed: a review of the impact of lactational exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on infants. J Environ Health. 2010 Oct;73(3):8-14; quiz 32

“Dioxins and Furans: The Most Toxic Chemicals Known to Science”. Energy Justice Network

Gallo MV, Schell LM, DeCaprio AP, Jacobs A. Levels of persistent organic pollutant and their predictors among young adults. Chemosphere. 2011 May;83(10):1374-82.

Glynn A, Larsdotter M, Aune M, Darnerud PO, Bjerselius R, Bergman A. Changes in serum concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hydroxylated PCB metabolites and pentachlorophenol during pregnancy. Chemosphere. 2011 Mar;83(2):144-51

Greger, M.D., Michael. “The Wrong Way to Detox”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 11. November 6th, 2012

“Healthy Milk, Healthy Baby: Chemical Pollution and Mother’ Milk”. National Resources Defense Council

“Toxic Substances Portal-Polychlorinated Biphenyls”. CDC: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry

Ulaszewska MM, Zuccato E, Davoli E. PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs in human milk and estimation of infants’ daily intake: a review. Chemosphere. 2011 Apr;83(6):774-82

Eating organic animal foods will not help you avoid environmental carcinogens and other toxins.

Men with a high prognostic risk of prostate cancer who consume significant eggs and/or poultry skin have a 4-fold increased risk of cancer recurrence or progression.

Over 450 types of drugs are given to farm animals to maximize production and profit. Many of these remain in the animal foods that people eat and pose a significant threat to the consumers.

other benefits of
a plant-based diet

In addition to plant-based diets reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and the other illnesses mentioned above, evidence suggests that are still more illnesses and health conditions that a plant-based diet may protect us from, including…

…protecting against the development of emphysema (now referred to as COPD)…

Celik F, Topcu F. Nutritional risk factors for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in male smokers. Clin Nutr. 2006 Dec;25(6):955-61.

De moura RS, Pires KM, Santos ferreira T, et al. Addition of açaí (Euterpe oleracea) to cigarettes has a protective effect against emphysema in mice. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011;49(4):855-63.

Greger, M.D., Michael “Preventing COPD with Diet”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 8. April 27th, 2012.

Greger, M.D., Michael “Treating COPD with Diet”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 15. April 30th, 2012.

Hirayama F, et al. Do vegetables and fruits reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? A case-control study in Japan. Prev Med. 2009 Aug-Sep;49(2-3):184-9.

Hirayama F, et al. Soy consumption and risk of COPD and respiratory symptoms: a case-control study in Japan. Respir Res. 2009 Jun 26;10:56.

Jiang R, Camargo CA Jr, Varraso R, Paik DC, Willett WC, Barr RG. Consumption of cured meats and prospective risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1002-8.

Jiang R, Paik DC, Hankinson JL, Barr RG. Cured meat consumption, lung function, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among United States adults. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007 Apr 15;175(8):798-804.

Keranis E, Makris D, Rodopoulou P, et al. Impact of dietary shift to higher-antioxidant foods in COPD: a randomised trial. Eur Respir J. 2010;36(4):774-80.

Tabak C, Smit HA, Räsänen L, Fidanza F, Menotti A, Nissinen A, Feskens EJ, Heederik D, Kromhout D. Dietary factors and pulmonary function: a cross sectional study in middle aged men from three European countries. Thorax. 1999 Nov;54(11):1021-6.

Varraso R, Jiang R, Barr RG, Willett WC, Camargo CA Jr. Prospective Study of Cured Meats Consumption and Risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Men. Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Dec 15;166(12):1438-45.

Varraso R, Willett WC, Camargo CA Jr. Prospective study of dietary fiber and risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among US women and men. Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Apr 1;171(7):776-84.

Walda IC, Tabak C, Smit HA, Räsänen L, Fidanza F, Menotti A, Nissinen A, Feskens EJ, Kromhout D. Diet and 20-year chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality in middle-aged men from three European countries. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jul;56(7):638-43.

…protecting against kidney disease and kidney failure…

Barsotti G et al. A special, supplemented ‘vegan’ diet for nephrotic patients. Am J Nephrol. 1991;11(5):380-5.

Barsotti G, Cupisti A, Morelli E, Ciardella F, Giovannetti S. Vegan supplemented diet in nephrotic syndrome. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1990;5 Suppl 1:75-7.

Greger, M.D., Michael “Which Type of Protein Is Better for Our Kidneys?” NutritionFacts.org video, November 30th, 2018.

Kontessis P, et al. metabolic and hormonal responses to ingestion of animal and vegetable proteins. Kidney Int. 1990 Jul;38(1):136-44.

Lin J, Hu FB, Curhan GC. Associations of diet with albuminuria and kidney function decline. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010;5(5):836-43.

Liu ZM et al. Effect of whole soy and purified isoflavone daidzein on renal function–a 6-month randomized controlled trial in equol-producing postmenopausal women with prehypertension. Clin Biochem. 2014 Sep;47(13-14):1250-6.

Odermatt A. The Western-style diet: a major risk factor for impaired kidney function and chronic kidney disease. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2011;301(5):F919-31.

Soroka N, Silverberg DS, Greemland M, et al. Comparison of a vegetable-based (soya) and an animal-based low-protein diet in predialysis chronic renal failure patients. Nephron. 1998;79(2):173-80.

Teixeira SR et al. Isolated soy protein consumption reduces urinary albumin excretion and improves the serum lipid profile in men with type 2 diabetes mellitus and nephropathy. J Nutr. 2004 Aug;134(8):1874-80.

Uribarri J, Oh MS. The key to halting progression of CKD might be in the produce market, not in the pharmacy. Kidney Int. 2012;81(1):7-9.

Breaking the
“not enough protein” &
“I need meat for my health”
myths

…after all, the strongest, most muscular land animals on the planet are herbivores.

…and no, there’s no evidence that certain blood types or genetic predispositions require us to consume animal foods.

Here are just a few of the many vegan athletes who are thriving on completely plant-based diets:

Carl Lewis, Olympic sprinter
Winner of 9 Olympic gold medals
Set multiple world records
Voted
World Athlete of the Decade in the 1980s
Voted
Olympic Athlete of the Century

Fiona Oakes, marathon runner
Holds world records for the fastest aggregate time for a marathon on each continent, the fastest time for a marathon on each continent plus the polar ice cap, and the quickest elapsed time for marathons on all continents plus the ice cap. 

Patrik Baboumian, powerlifter
2012 European Powerlifting Champion
World record breaker in 3 strongman events
World record breaker for log lift and yoke walk

Jeremy Reijndeers, crossfit competitor
CrossFit 2018 Fittest Man in the Netherlands

Scott Jurek, ultramarathon runner
Broke the record for 24 hour running (USA) and the 3500-km Appalachian trail
Won over 24 ultramarathons and broke numerous course records

Tia Blanco, surfer
2016 Winner of the World Surfing Games; Winner of the Ron Jon Jr Pro 

Rob Bigwood, armwrestler
2006 Left handed Super Heavyweight World Champion
Winner of over 40 State Championships

 David Carter, NFL defensive lineman
A 300-lb defensive lineman who has played for several NFL teams

Timothy Shieff, freerunner/parkour
2009 World Freerunning Champion
2-time Winner of the Ninja Warrior UK

Harri Nieminem, Thai boxer
World Thai Boxing Champion 1997
Ultramarathon runner in retirement

Sarah Stewart, wheelchair basketball player
Seven times title winner in the Australian National League; three-time Paralympian

Cam Awesome, super heavyweight and heavyweight amateur boxer
13 national titles
Multiple international tournament wins
Winner of US Olympic trials

Meagan Duhamel, figure skater
Two-time world champion
Seven-time Canadian Champion
Gold, Silver and Bronze Winter Olympic medal winner

Pat Reeves, powerlifter
Multiple world record holder in numerous age groups
Continues to compete in 70-74 category

Cody Elkins, racquetball player
World Indoor Champion 2015
World Outdoor Champion 2017
(vegan since age 2!) 

Numerous top MMA fighters
There has been a steady movement of MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters moving towards a vegan diet to improve their strength and stamina.

Here and here are two other great websites with lots more information about the growing movement of athletes towards a plant-based diet.

THE IMPACT ON OUR FELLOW HUMANS

Wasting precious resources that could feed more people

Over 800 million people are currently underfed and undernourished. At least 9 million people (and 3 million children) die from starvation every year, with 150 million children being developmentally stunted by malnourishment.

…while 82% of starving children live in countries where abundant grains and plant foods are grown, but which are then fed to the animals that will become the meat consumed by the more affluent nations (particularly the U.S, Europe and the commonwealth nations).

On average, farmed animals eat nearly 40 times what they produce as meat, dairy and eggs—in other words, eating animal products is an extremely inefficient use of resources.

The International Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] estimated that globally, farmed animals consume 7.0 Gigatons of dry matter biomass annually while only providing about .19 Gigatons of meat, dairy and eggs in return.

See Figure 11.9, Page 836, in Chapter 11 of Working Group 3 in the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Children stunted by malnutrition

150,000,000 / Year

Children starved to death

3,000,000 / Year

More People who could be fed if we all gave up animal products

4,000,000,000 / Year

That's over 400 times the amount of food needed to prevent all starvation.

animal farming is creating “superbugs”

The alarm has been sounding that we are entering a very dangerous post-antibiotic era in which most antibiotic medications will no longer be effective. This is due to the excessive use of antibiotics allowing bacteria to develop immunity—and about 80% of all antibiotics are used within the animal farming industry…

The U.S. FDA Summary Report estimates that 80% of all antibiotics sold within the U.S. are used within the animal farming industry, with about 70% of these being the type deemed “medically important” (i.e., from classes of antibiotics important to human medicine). Antibiotic use in other countries is approaching these figures as consumption and practices quickly catch up to those of the U.S.

…and 1,000,000 people are currently dying every year due to antibiotic-resistant infections, with this figure predicted to continue increasing rapidly.

“2011 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals”. FDA: Departent of Health and Human Services. September, 2014.

“Antimicrobials in Agriculture and the Environment: Reducing Unnecessary Use and Waste”. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. December 2015

“Antibiotic Resistance: NARMS- Combatting Antibiotic Resistance with Surveillance”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Report on Surveillance 2014”. World Health Organization

“Antiobiotic resistance Threats in the United States, 2013”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

“Industrial Food Animal Production in America: Examining the Impact of the Pew Commission’s Priority Recommendations”. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Center for a Livable Future. October 2013

Flanders, Timothy F, RN, CNP, PHD, et al. “A Review of Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: Perspective, Policy, and Potential”. Public Health Reports 2012 Jan-Feb; 127 (1): 4-22.

Greger, M.D., Michael “Drug Residues in Meat”. NutritionFacts.org video. Volume 4. October 18th, 2010

Loglisci, Ralph. “New FDA Number’s Reveal Food Animals Consume Lion’s Share of Antibiotics”. Center for a livable future. December 2010.

Martin, Michael J et al. “Antibiotics Overuse in Animal Agriculture: A Call to Action for Health Care Providers” American journal of public health vol. 105,12 (2015): 2409-10.

“Tackling Drug-Resistant Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations The Review On Antimicrobial Resistance”. The UK Department of Health. May 2016.

Zuraw, Lydia. “2015 in Review: Animal Antibiotics”. Food Safety News. December 2015. Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, et al. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA. 1998;280(23):2001-7.

THE IMPACT ON OUR FELLOW EARTHLINGS

destruction of wildlife & species extinction

Animal agriculture is the hands down “leader” in wiping out our fellow wild Earthlings—both in the slaughter of individual animals and the obliteration of entire species… 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day (50,000 species per year!) due predominantly to the destruction of rainforest and other wild lands by animal farming.

Ten thousand years ago, 99% of the world’s zoomass (animal-based biomass) consisted of wild animals. Today, wild animals make up only 2% of the world’s zoomass. Humans and especially the animals that we raise for food make up the remaining 98%!

Forested wilderness is down to only 7% of the planet’s entire land area. At current rates of decline, essentially all (100%) wild vertebrates will be gone within 30 years (and this is a very conservative estimate).

The World Wildlife Federation has been compiling data related to wildlife populations since 1970, and their most recent report concludes that the world has seen about a 60% loss of vertebrate populations since 1970. If we extrapolate this figure into the future, the unsettling conclusion is that all (that’s 100%!) wild vertebrates may be gone within just 30 years. This is actually a highly conservative estimate, since it’s likely that as rates of our various destructive practices increase (including especially the steady increase in animal farming that we have seen in recent years), the rate of wildlife decline will likely also increase. This suggests the highly alarming possibility that wildlife may be completely wiped out within as little as one to two decades.

IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.

WWF. 2018. Living Planet Report – 2018: Aiming Higher. Grooten, M. and Almond, R.E.A.(Eds). WWF, Gland, Switzerland.

Entire Species Lost

50,000 / Year

...70-90% of which are due to animal farming

ENormous suffering for the Animals

For those of us who have been close to an animal, it’s clear that these animals experience pain and suffering just like we do.

“88 billion” farmed terrestrial animals is merely the amount formerly reported to the UN—the actual number of animals slaughtered annually is likely to be much higher. It is even more difficult to obtain accurate figures for marine animals as they are typically reported by weight rather than by numbers of individuals.

There is only too much documented evidence of the intense suffering that factory farmed animals typically endure—for example, see here and here.

2016 Statistics accessed from United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on 1st December, 2018.

“Fish count estimates”. Fishcount.org.uk

Choosing to abstain from meat while eating eggs or dairy, or only purchasing “free range”, “grass fed” or seafoods, probably does not reduce the suffering inflicted upon the animals much at all, if any.

Many people choose to forego meat for ethical reasons, but then continue consuming eggs and dairy, believing that these animals suffer less. However, egg and dairy farming typically inflict at least as much pain and suffering on the animals as meat farming. Even so called “humane,” “organic,” “free range, “grass fed,” etc., farming involves an enormous amount of unnecessary pain and suffering inflicted upon billions of animals:

In dairy farming, the babies are removed from the mothers shortly after birth—the grieving mother cows are known to cry out and moan for up to many weeks at the spot where they last saw their calf.

The male calves are frequently slaughtered shortly after birth and made into veal or other feed, or are raised to be slaughtered within a year or two for beef.

Although the natural lifespan of a dairy cow is over 20 years, due to their highly taxing circumstances (being kept nearly continuously pregnant and milked multiple times daily) and typically an unnatural diet, hormones, etc., their milk production declines after just a few years, and they are typically slaughtered by the age of 7 or 8.

“Grass fed” beef cows probably have a better life than their factory farmed kin, but they are typically slaughtered as soon as they achieve maximum meat production, which is only at about 18 months old when their natural lifespan would be about 20 years. (And “grass fed” cows require more land and other resources and generally emit more greenhouse gases than factory farmed cows).

The term “free range” is often applied to chickens and pigs who are supposed to be raised in a more humane manner than on typical factory harms. However, in most countries, the term free range is poorly defined, is poorly regulated, and involves far less humane handling and “free ranging” than most people realize. For more detail, see the following links:

https://www.safe.org.nz/issue/free-range

https://veganoutreach.org/free-range-farms/

http://freerangefraud.com/

Most “free range” chickens do not actually have the opportunity to freely range, nor are their lives much different than that of caged chickens. Rather than being stuffed into lots of little cages, their situation typically consists of many chickens being stuffed into one large “cage” (i.e., the chicken shed) with extremely limited access to the outdoors. Chickens raised for meat (whether “free range” or not) are typically slaughtered at 5-7 weeks of age when their natural lifespan is 8 or more years. Shortly after hatching, the baby chicks have their beaks sliced off by a hot-knife without anaesthetics (i.e., debeaking).

“Free-range” pigs, like “free range” chickens, typically have far less humane conditions that most consumers realize (see above). Even those lucky few who are permitted some ability to range typically have rings forced through their noses to prevent them rooting in the soil and thereby deny them this important natural behaviour, and they are typically slaughtered at 5-6 months of age while their natural lifespan is about 10-12 years.

 With chickens raised for eggs, in addition to the debeaking of the female chicks, the male chicks are separated from the females and immediately killed (they are considered useless to the egg industry since they cannot lay eggs and are of a different breed than those used for meat). This practice is known as chick culling, and typically consists of the chicks being dropped alive into a grinder, stuffed alive into plastic bags to be suffocated, or placed into a gas chamber.

The female chickens are still slaughtered well before their natural lifespan—typically after just 12-18 months when their egg production drops, whereas their natural lifespan is 8 or more years.

 No matter how “humane” a particular method of farming may be considered, no farm animals are free to live a natural life (being confined to a greater or lesser degree), and they are nearly always slaughtered long before their life would naturally end. It would be difficult to deny that these factors must entail a significant degree of suffering for the animals, and often very severe suffering.

 The evidence is quite robust that fish do experience pain and suffering just like humans and other animals, though they generally can’t make sounds and expressions of pain that we easily recognize with can give us the illusion that they don’t feel much pain (see for example here and here).

Personal hunting and fishing have one significant advantage over farming in that the animals are typically free to live a natural life, although the use of strictly hunting and fishing to feed large populations would be environmentally devastating (see above), and of course hunting and fishing still typically involve a torturous end for the animals.

These infographics illustrate some of the major ethical problems found in the egg and dairy industries…

These are the numbers of animals that have been slaughtered by the major animal products industries (meat, dairy, eggs, leather, fur and wool) in the time since you opened this page.

Farmed 'Game' Animals

650,000 / Year

THE IMPACT ON THE EARTH

Global Warming &  Climate Change

Greenhouse emissions from animal farming exceeds emissions from all modes of transportation (cars, trucks, planes, trains, ships, etc.) combined -- 40% more!

In 2006, the United Nations published a major study estimating that 18% of all global warming (i.e., greenhouse) emissions comes from animal farming, which is more than all modes of transportation in the world combined, which was estimated at about 13% (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO]). They concluded that, “a substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products” (UNEP, 2010, p. 82).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO] (2006). Livestock impacts on the environment.

United Nations Environmental Programme [UNEP] (2010). Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials.

The animal farming industry is responsible for as much as 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

A more recent study conducted by the WorldWatch Institute in 2009 considered a broader array of factors in determining greenhouse emissions, and they concluded that the animal farming industry as a whole accounts for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions (Goodland & Anhang).

Goodland, Robert & Anhang, Jeff. “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs and chickens?”. WorldWatch. November/December 2009

See also:

Hickman, Martin. “Study claims meat creates half of all greenhouse gases”. Independent. November 2009

Hyner, Christopher. “A Leading Cause of Everything: One Industry That Is Destroying Our Planet and Our Ability to Thrive on It”. Georgetown Environmental Law Review. October 23, 2015.

Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide—72 times more potent; and animal farming emits nearly as much methane as all human use of natural gas.

Nitrous oxide is an extremely potent greenhouse gas—about 300 times more potent than CO2! And animal farming is responsible for 65% of all human-related nitrous oxide emissions.

Nitrous oxide is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, with about 300 times the global warming potential of CO2 and remaining in the atmosphere for 150 years. The animal farming industry is responsible for about 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide.

“Livestock’ Long Shadow: environmental issues and options”. FAO. Rome. 2006

See also:

“Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States”. U.S. Energy Information Administration. March 31, 2011

The World Bank data bank.

At the current rate of increasing consumption of animal products throughout the world, it is estimated that greenhouse emissions for agriculture will increase a further 80% by 2050.

“Free ranging,” “grass fed,” and “holistic management” livestock are not more environmentally friendly…and may actually be even worse.

There has been a lot of movement recently towards methods of animal farming that are claimed to be more environmentally sustainable—these particularly include those that are referred to as “grass fed,” “free ranging,” “regenerative agriculture,” and Allan Savory’s “holistic management.” There’s no doubt that most of these methods are probably far kinder to the animals themselves than traditional “factory farming.” However, the claims that these are more environmentally friendly are not standing up to the peer-reviewed research; and in fact, a number of studies suggest that some of these methods may actually be worse than factory farming.

Briske, David D., et al. “Commentary: a critical assessment of the policy endorsement for holistic management.” Agricultural Systems 125 (2014): 50-53

Carter, John, et al. “Holistic management: misinformation on the science of grazed ecosystems.” International Journal of Biodiversity 2014 (2014)

Daryanto, Stefani, David J. Eldridge, and Heather L. Throop. “Managing semi-arid woodlands for carbon storage: grazing and shrub effects on above-and belowground carbon.” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 169 (2013): 1-11

Fernandez, Daniel P., Jason C. Neff, and Richard L. Reynolds. “Biogeochemical and ecological impacts of livestock grazing in semi-arid southeastern Utah, USA.” Journal of Arid Environments 72.5 (2008): 777-791

Hayek, M. N., & Garrett, R. (2018). Nationwide shift to grass-fed beef requires larger cattle population. Environmental Research Letters

Holst, Alexander. “The ‘Sustainability’ of U.S. cow production”. Faunalytics. October 18, 2018

McWilliams, James F. “All Sizzle and No Steak. Why Allan Savory’s TED talk about how cattle can reverse global warming is dead wrong”. Slate

Monbiot, George. “Eat more meat and save the world: The latest implausible farming miracle”. The Guardian. August 4, 2014

Oppenlander, Richard. “Saving the World with Livestock? The Allan Savory Approach Examined”. Free from Harm. August 2013

Pelletier, Nathan, Rich Pirog, and Rebecca Rasmussen. “Comparative life cycle environmental impacts of three beef production strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States.” Agricultural Systems 103.6 (2010): 380-389

West, Jason, and Briske, Jeff. “Cows, carbon and the Anthropocene: Commentary of Savory TED Video”. RealClimate. November 4, 2013

Wuerthner, George. “Allan Savory: Myth and Reality”. The Wildlife News. November 2013

Even if we were somehow able to completely stop the use of all fossil fuels today,it is estimated that we will still exceed the 565 gigatonnes CO2 atmospheric limit (to remain under 2°C of global warming) by 2030 purely from our ongoing consumption of animal products.

Kg of CO2 emitted for every Kg Consumed

Image source: Green and Healthy Monday
Data source: Environmental Working Group

The Depletion of Fresh water

To put the figures of this diagram into perspective, buying 1kg less beef or lamb saves the same amount of water as not showering at all for an entire year! No amount of water-conserving behaviour could ever come close to simply switching to a plant-based diet.

Liters of Water Used per Kg Consumed

Image source: Green and Healthy Monday
Data source: UNESCO Institute for Water Education

Destruction of Fertile Land & Wild Spaces

The animal farming industry occupies over 30% of all ice-free land on the planet and 83% of all agricultural land...

Every single day, 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest are destroyed and another 80,000 acres are seriously degraded. Animal agriculture is responsible for about 80% of this deforestation worldwide, and 91% of the deforestation in the Amazon since 1970.

To put these figures into more practical terms, it is estimated that 55 square feet of rainforest is destroyed for every fast-food hamburger that we consume.

Margulis, Sergio. “Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon”. World Bank Working Paper No. 22. 2003

“Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests”. Scientific American, 19 November, 2009

See also:

“Avoiding Unsustainable Rainforest Wood”. Rainforest Relief

Bellantonio, Marisa, et al. “The Ultimate Mystery Meat: Exposing the Secrets Behind Burger King and Global Meat Production”. Mighty Earth

Butler, Rhett. “10 Rainforest Facts for 2017”. Mongabay.com. January, 2017

Butler, Rhett. “Cattle Ranching’s Impact on the Rainforest”. Mongabay.com. July 2012

Oppenlander, Richard A. Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work. . Minneapolis, MN : Langdon Street, 2013. Print.

Reid, Walter V. & Miller, Kenton R. “Keeping Options Alive: The Scientific Basis for Conserving Biodiveristy”. World Resources Institute. October 1989

“Soy Agriculture in the Amazon Basin”. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sudies: Global Forest Atlas

Tabuchi, Hiroko, Rigny, Claire & White, Jeremy. “Amazon Deforestation, Once Tames, Comes Roaring Back”. New York Times. February 2017

“The Disappearing Rainforests”. Save the Amazon.org

“Tropical Deforestation”. National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Facts

Veiga, J.B., et al. “Cattle Ranching in the Amazon Rainforest”. UN: Food and Agriculture Oragnization

If we all give up the use of animal products, the extent of agricultural land that would be freed up for reforestation will be greater than the land area of the United Sates, Australia and China combined.

The area of land equivalent to China, the USA, and Australia combined could be reforested if we all gave up animal products.

Data source: Poore & Nemecek

toxic waste polluting our lands and waterways

Every year, livestock produce about 13 billion tons of waste. In countries that consume a lot of animal products like New Zealand and the U.S., about 5 tons of animal waste is produced per person living there each year, and other countries are quickly approaching this ratio as they race to catch up to the U.S.’s level of animal food consumption.

The world’s waterways are increasingly becoming unfit for swimming (let alone drinking) due to parasite infections caused primarily by animal farming. Here in New Zealand, 60% of our streams and rivers are now formally declared as unfit for swimming due to the risk of E. coli infection resulting primarily from animal farming.

and even this figure is based on a standard that is considered by many to be far too conservative—deeming it acceptable for “an average swimmer on a random day” to have a 3% risk of becoming infected.

NIWA Technical Background report for MfE “Clean Water” Swimmability Proposals for Rivers. National Institue of Water and Atmospheric Research [NIWA]. May 2017

widescale destruction of ocean ecosystems

As many as 2.7 trillion animals are pulled from the ocean each year due to fishing. 75% of the world’s fisheries are already either fully exploited or significantly depleted, and we’re on track to see essentially fishless oceans by 2048.

Furthermore…

…for every 1 pound of fish caught for consumption, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as “by-kill.”

…as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year directly or indirectly by fishing practices.

…100 million sharks are killed for meat, their fins or as by-kill every year.

“Discard and bycatch in Shrimp trawl fisheries”. FAO: Fisheries and Aquaculture Department

“Fish count estimates”. Fishcount.org.uk

“General situation of world fish stocks”. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

Goldenberg, Suzanne. “America’s nine most wasteful fisheries named”. The Guardian. 20 March 2014

Keledjian, Amanda, et al. “Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries”. Oceana. March 2014

Montaigne, Fen. “Still Waters: The Global Fish Crisis”. National Geographic

Mood, A & Brooke, P. “Estimating the Number of Fish Caught in Global Fishing Each Year”. July 2010

 “Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity”. United Nations Environment Programme

Pala, Christopher. “Official statistics understate global fish catch, new estimate concludes”. Science. January 2016

Pauly, Daniel & Zeller, Dirk. “Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining”. Nature Communications. Vol. 7. 2016

Roach, John. “Seafood May Be Gone by 2048, Study Says”. National Geographic News.  November 2, 2006

“Shark Fin Trade Myths and Truths: BYCATCH”. Shark Savers

“Sharks at Risk”. Animal Welfare Institute

Stone, Dan. “100 Million Sharks Killed Every Year, Study Show on Eve of International Conference on Shark Protection”. National Geographic: Ocean Views. March, 2013

“World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture: Part 1”. UN: Food and Argriculture Organization. 2012

 “World Review of Fisheries and Aquaculture: Part 1”. United Nations Food and Agriculture OrganizationWorm, Boris, et al. “Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks”. Marine Policy. 40 (2013) 194-204

Worm, Boris, et al. “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services”. Science. Vol 314. 3 November 2006

Worm, Boris, et al. “Global catches, exploitation rates, and rebuilding options for sharks.” Marine Policy 40 (2013): 194-204

...and purchasing farmed fish does not present us with an ecologically sustainable alternative.

Some farmed fish are able to live off of grains, but just as with consuming other animals, there is a significant overall loss of food when we go up the food chain ladder. In the case of farmed fish, it is estimated that they only provide about 10% of the calories back from what has been fed to the them, making it similar to the feed conversion ratio we find in poultry and pigs.

Many other farmed fish, particularly tuna and salmon, are fed other fish—up to 5 times as much fish as the meat that they themselves will produce.

Because farmed fish are typically crammed into very tight spaces (with 27 adult trout typically squeezed into the size of a bathtub), they provide a haven for parasites and disease to grow and spread, which in turn often spread into the wild populations, having decimated a number of wild fish populations in some areas. In addition, the pesticides used as an attempt to control these diseases often do even further harm to the surrounding ecosystems. Furthermore, their concentrated wastes also harm the surrounding ecosystems, one of a number of serious harms of which is the creation of toxic algal blooms and associated dead zones.

Ernst, w., et al. “Dispersion and toxicity to non-target aquatic organisms of pesticides used to treat sea lice on salmon in net pen enclosures”. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Vol 42, No. 6 (2001) pp. 433-444.

Fry, Jillian P., et al. “Feed conversion efficiency in aquaculture: do we measure it correctly?.” Environmental Research Letters 13.2 (2018): 024017.

Hoyle, A. “High sea lice levels ‘will kill wild salmon and trout’”. Fish Farming Expert. 15th June 2017.

Naylor, R. et al. “Effects of aquaculture on world fish supplies.” Issues in Ecology. 8 (2001).

University of Alberta. “Salmon Farms Kill Wild Fish, Study Shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2006.

Marine wildlife killed by the fishing industry…

Dolphins & Small Whales

100,000 / Year

Large Whales

1,700 / Year

TRY OUT OUR DIET IMPACT CALCULATORS...


Plant-based diets also have tremendous benefits for our personal health…

…though it’s difficult to include clear figures for these benefits within a calculator like this.

In general, the less animal foods and processed foods your diet contains, the less likely it is that you will develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and a number of other illnesses; and the more likely it is that you will live a long and healthy life.

See the Personal Health section above for more details.


For more information and references related to these figures, see the related sections:

Impact on Human society

Impact on Our Fellow Earthlings

Impact on The Earth

 

You can download the excel file used for these calculations HERE

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