The Devastating Effects of Animal Agriculture



Washington, DC (TFC) – Animal Agriculture’s destructive global impact has been ignored by mankind for far too long.

You, are just as powerful as any other human being. These issues facing humanity can seem extremely daunting, and I feel that anyone using fear tactics to explain these issues, is misguided. Every one of us have the power to build ourselves up, and inspire the people around us. That being said, no matter what we face as a human family, we are going to transition through, and will face it all together, head on. Throughout this article I will be attempting to shed light on one of the most destructive industries in the world, and providing solutions which will enable readers to take action. What you do with this information is up to you.

The more damaging elements of the meat and dairy industry are effectively government-sponsored: millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is spent propping up factory farms and subsidising the import of animal feed that’s been grown at the expense of forests.” – Clare Oxborrow

Animal Agriculture is the practice of raising livestock for the production and sale of animal products, such as meat and dairy. I have split this article up into sections to give a brief overview of livestock’s direct impact on individual problems facing our society, and the natural systems of our planet.



Climate Change:

What environmental organizations and many climate activists aren’t telling you, is that Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of climate change. There’s more global greenhouse gas emissions from raising cattle than the emissions of the entire global transportation sector — That’s all the world’s planes, ships, trucks, and automobiles combined.

Livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissionsand methane gas from livestock is 25-100x more destructive than CO2 emissions. With all of the attention on the fossil fuel industry, Animal Agriculture is widely being ignored. As far as climate change and environmental destruction is concerned, raising livestock is the leading contributor, and by a staggering amount.

“…While enormous obstacles stand in the way of widespread implementation of renewable energies, significant reductions in livestock populations on the other hand can be accomplished with relative ease (made all the easier by forthcoming meat replacement technologies). And, with the industry as the world’s leading methane and total GHG emitter, reductions here would have a greater (and, importantly, quicker) positive environmental impact. For these reasons, the immediate focus of climate change mitigation efforts should be shifted away from cars and coal and squarely onto cows and methane.”

– Andy Vrbicek, “The World’s Leading Driver of Climate Change: Animal Agriculture



In the last 40 years, the amazon has been reduced by 20%. This amazing source of biodiversity, along with all other rainforests, are being cut down at a rate of 1.5 acres per second. “Stand For Trees”, “GreenPeace”, and “Amazon Watch” fail to mention Animal Agriculture (The reason for 91% of the Amazon’s deforestation) as they claim to protect trees from being cut down. These are Environmental Organizations that are profiting off of the public’s donations by millions of dollars, and in turn never addressing the real reason for deforestation. In the documentary Cowspiracy, Kip Anderson takes his film crew and documents his journey of research and interviews with some of the biggest environmental charities. With knowledge of the true driver of climate change and the removal of the Amazon, Kip sets out to ask these organizations point blank: Why in the world are you not addressing Animal Agriculture?

Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day because of the destruction of these biodiverse regions of our planet.  




Producing meat takes large amounts of water.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that one hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce – the equivalent of 2 months of showers. Together, irrigating feed crops and raising livestock consume over half of all freshwater in the US. In contrast, domestic uses—all showers taken, toilets flushed, cars washed, glasses drunk, and lawns watered— Amounts to only 5%.

55% of water consumed in the US, and 20%-33% of all water consumed in the world is for Animal Agriculture.

Why is this important?

With additional pressure from climate change, there’s absolutely no way to count on continued supplies of water at the current rates. 47% of drought-stricken California’s water is going straight to Animal Agriculture. Across the planet one major river in ten, no longer flows into the sea for several months of the year. Deprived of the Jordan river, the Dead Sea goes down by over 1 meter every year. Freshwater is becoming scarce all over the world. In western India, 30% of wells are abandoned because of depleted aquifers. According to the United Nations, Water shortages could affect almost 2 billion people by 2025, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.

Image credit: Luke Jones,

[Image credit: Luke Jones,]


For every pound of fish caught, 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill. This includes an incredible amount of sharks, dolphins, and whales. On top of this, over 70 percent of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. We are taking out fish so much faster than the species are reproducing, some estimates are showing that we could see fishless oceans by 2048.

With huge help from CO2 emissions in the atmosphere (due to fossil fuels and Animal Agriculture), the oceans are increasingly becoming more acidic. CO2 is changing the chemistry of the ocean faster than at any time in human history. What this means is that greenhouse gasses are being absorbed in the oceans, causing the pH level to go down. This effect of acidification depletes the water of its natural ingredients for aiding life in the ocean, causing thousands of species to be wiped out.

I used to think it was kind of hard to make things in the ocean go extinct,” said James Barry of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. “But this change we’re seeing is happening so fast it’s almost instantaneous. I think it might be so important that we see large levels, high rates, of extinction.”


Species Extinction:


Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.  

Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to the monumental habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops, and for animal grazing, predators and “competition” species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poisons waterways. The overexploitation of wild species through commercial fishing, bushmeat trade, as well as animal agriculture’s impact on climate change, all contribute to global depletion of species and resources.

“Like most people, I was raised eating meat, dairy, and eggs, and I believed the official stories, like the protein story, the calcium story, the human superiority story, and the plants feel pain too story. As I did more research, though, and started questioning the stories that had been injected into my consciousness from infancy, I began to realize that animal agriculture is not only hideously abusive to pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, fishes, and other animals, but that it is also exceedingly inefficient.

Right now, for example, we are destroying about an acre per second of Amazonian rainforest in order to grow soybeans to feed imprisoned animals for meat, dairy products, and eggs that are consumed right here in this country. Cutting down an acre of rainforest is not just killing trees; it is also destroying webs of life that took millions of years to evolve, resulting in loss of habitat for both animals and plants, and driving the largest mass extinction of species in 65 million years. The oceans are similarly being overfished for fish for both human and livestock consumption, similarly driving extinction, climate destabilization, and environmental destruction.” – Dr Will Tuttle

What can we do?

  • Share this article. If you contribute to a news outlet, take anything from it to use for sparking awareness with the people you are connected with. Whether on social media, with your friends, or when you’re on a break at work. These hard hitting facts are useful tools for waking up our fellow human beings to the destruction we unknowingly contribute to on a daily basis.
  • Those that are bold enough to peacefully disrupt Livestock facilities can do so. Gathering in numbers makes a difference, and if you have the ability to film your encounter(s), I highly recommend it. Those interested in this action though should be aware of the  “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.” This law can label you a terrorist and land you up to 6 months in prison for non-violent civil disobedience on the property of factory farms.
  • Awareness of the threat posed by animal agriculture is key, but the biggest battleground for this fight is on your plate.

By removing factory farm meat and dairy from your diet, you directly stop your funding and contribution to this industry and its enormous environmental impact. Voting with your dollars is the single, most effective way you can make a difference in the face of Animal Agriculture.

The global implications of this industry can be stopped. Our effect on this beautiful planet can be healed. As divided and distracted as we have been lead to be, our reality is ours to create. Ultimately, as much power as these corporations seem to have, they are only upheld by our contribution to them. Instead of playing the blame game on certain people in our society, its time to look at our responsibility. Once we look inside and realize our connectedness to everything, this beast will have no fuel to destroy.

For more information on Animal Agriculture, visit


Picture by Ryan McGuire