Eating Animals: The Facts

by PETA. From Visually. (click to enlarge)

Some good reasons to consider what you eat more carefully. 
This information originally appeared on the EarthSave.org web pages 

Food Choices and the Planet

The toll exacted on human health by a diet laden with saturated fat and cholesterol is devastating, and thoroughly documented. What is this same diet doing to our planet?

It takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline to produce one pound of feedlot beef.

70% of US grain production is fed to livestock.

5 million acres of rainforest are felled every year in South and Central America alone to create cattle pasture.

Roughly 20% of all currently threatened and endangered species in the US are harmed by livestock grazing.

Animal agriculture is a chief contributor to water pollution.

America’s farm animals produce 10 times the waste produced by the human population.

The Good News About the Environment and Our Food Choices

Many farmers are rediscovering the farming methods of their grandfathers and augmenting this with new knowledge of sustainable techniques. These are achieving the same or greater yields without the use of costly, harmful and soil-depleting petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Ultimately, it is consumer demand that has brought us to this juncture of depleted and polluted soils, seas and fresh water supplies through the desire to have a “cheap” food supply. Only a profound change in consumer demand can prevent a total collapse of the seas and the soils.

Because of over-consumption of fish, all 17 of the world’s major fishing areas have reached or exceeded their natural limits. One-third of the world’s fish catch is fed directly to livestock.

By eating a varied plant-based diet, you can easily get all the nutrients you need to lead a healthy active life. Besides being easy, delicious, economical, fun and healthful, following a plant-based diet transforms your fork into a powerful tool for environmental protection and restoration.

More interesting documented FACTS

Land Utilization and Soil Erosion

One-half of the Earth’s land mass is grazed by livestock.[1]

More than 60% of the world’s rangelands were damaged by overgrazing during the past half century.[2]

As much as 85% of rangeland in the western US is being degraded by overgrazing.[3]

Overgrazing is by far the most pervasive cause of desertification.[4]

35 pounds of topsoil are lost in the production of one pound of grain-fed beef.[5]

64% of US cropland produces livestock feed.[6]

Only 2% of US cropland produces fruits and vegetables.[7]

Pounds of edible product that can be produced on an acre of prime land:
Apples 20,000
Carrots 30,000
Potatoes 40,000
Tomatoes 50,000
Beef 250

Water Consumption

The number of gallons of water needed
to produce one pound of edible product:
Apples 49
Carrots 33
Potatoes 24
Tomatoes 23
Beef 2,500

Endangered Species

At least 100 animals are added to the endangered species list each year.[11]

Between 19 and 22% of all threatened and endangered species are harmed by livestock grazing.[12]

Rainforest Destruction

5 million acres of rainforest are felled every year in South and Central America to create cattle pasture.[13]

Cattle ranching has destroyed more Central American rainforest than any other activity.[14]

70% of cleared forests in Panama and Costa Rica are now in pasture.[15]


Manure produced by all farm animals in the US annually is roughly 10 times the waste produced by the human population.[16]

Factory farms are the biggest contributors to polluted rivers and streams in the US.[17]

1,785 water bodies were impaired by feedlot pollution in 39 states in 1993.[18]

About 60,000 miles of streams in the US have fisheries impaired by feedlot pollution.[19]

More soot is emitted from the grills in Los Angeles fast food restaurants than all the city buses.[20]

Pesticides & Food Contamination

Since 1945 when pesticides made from petrochemicals became popular, the following changes have occurred: [21,22,23]

Percentage Increase
3,300% overall pesticide use
20% overall crop losses due to insects
100,000% pesticides applied per acre of corn

The drinking water in nearly every midwestern city south of Chicago is contaminated with agricultural weed killers.[24]

Meat, poultry and dairy products contain the major source of pesticide residues in the western diet.[25]

95% of human exposure to the potent carcinogen dioxin comes from consuming meat, poultry and dairy.[26]

The EPA issued more than 1,000 warnings against eating fish from chemically-contaminated waters in 1994.[27]

Nearly half of all fish sampled by Consumers Union was contaminated with bacterial from human or animal feces.[28]

99% of US non-vegetarian mothers’ milk has significant levels of DDT. Only 8% of US vegetarian mothers’ milk has significant levels of DDT.[29]

Resource Distribution

Resources used in the production of livestock:

33% of world’s fish catch [30]
38% of the world’s grain harvest [31]
50% of all the water used in the US [32]
60% of Brazil’s grain harvest [33]
70% of US grain harvest [34]
80% of US corn harvest [35]
Almost half of all energy expended in US agriculture [36]
14% of all cattle are fed back to cattle as part of protein-fortified feed.[37]
Approximately 8 million pounds of poultry manure are fed annually to California’s beef cattle.[38]

50% of all the antibiotics used in the US are fed to animals, and 80% of them are used to promote growth, not to treat disease.[39]

12-16 pounds of grain and soy are needed to produce one pound of grain-fed beef.[40]

All 17 of the worlds major fishing areas have reached or exceeded their natural limits due to overfishing.[41]

$3.7 billion subsidized animal feed grains in 1995. They are the US’s most heavily subsidized crop.[42]

World Hunger

5 million children in the US go hungry every month.[43]

Approximately 40,000 people die each day worldwide due to hunger or hunger-related causes.[44]

If Americans reduced their intake of meat by merely 10%, 100,000,000 people could be fed using the land, water and energy that would be freed up from growing livestock feed.[45]

10 billion people could be sustained from present croplands if all ate a vegetarian diet.[46]

If everyone in the world cut their meat consumption to reduce their fat intake to the 30% level, there would be enough grain to feed the world’s population increases through the year 2000.[47]


[1] Lester Brown, et al., Vital Signs 1994 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1994), pg. 32.
[2] Robert Repetto “Renewable Resources and Population Growth,” Population and Environment 10:4 (Summer 1989) pg. 228-29 cited in Rifkin, Beyond Beef (New York: Dutton Press, 1992).
[3] Myra Klockenbrink, “The New Range War Has the Desert as Foe,” New York Times,Aug. 20, 1991, pg. C4.
[4] Ibid., pg. 3.
[5] Ibid., pg. 3.
[6] US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Statistics 1989; p. 390, table 554, “Crops: Area, Yield, Production and Value, United States, 1986-99” (Washington, DC: GPO, 1989).
[7] Ibid.
[8] Tom Aldridge and Herb Schlubach, “Water Requirements for Food Production,” Soil and Water, no. 38 (Fall 1978), University of California Cooperative Extension, 13017; Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Population, Resources, Environment (San Francisco: Freemna, 1972), pg. 75-76.
[9] Ibid., pg. 13-17.
[10] Georg Borgstrom, presentation to the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1981, cited in John Robbins, Diet for a New America (Walpole, NH: Stillpoint, 1987), pg. 367.
[11] Losos, et al., The Living Landscape (Washington, DC: Wilderness Society and Environmental Defense Fund, 1993), pg. 20.
[12] Ibid, pg. 10.
[13] Norman Myers, The Primary Source: Tropical Forests and Our Future, 1992, cited in Brown et al. as per note 7.
[14] Lewis Scott, The Rainforest Book (Venice, CA: The Living Planet Press, 1990).
[15] Alan During and Holly Brough, Taking Stock, Worldwatch Paper #103 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, 1991), pg. 25.
[16] Jim Mason, “Fowling the Waters,” E Magazine, Sep/Oct 1995, pg. 33.
[17] EPA workgroup report 1994, cited in Jim Mason, note 15.
[18] Natural Resources Defense Council and International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, Hog Wash: Factory Farm Giveaways in Clean Water Act Proposals, July 1995.
[19] Ibid.
[20] San Jose Mercury News, Sept. 6, 1994.
[21] Pimental, et al., Handbook of Pest Management in Agriculture, 2nd ed. (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1990).
[22] David Pimental, Cornell University, as quoted by Lisa Y. Lefferts and Roger Blobaum, “Eating as if the Earth Mattered,” E Magazine, Jan/Feb 1992, pg. 32.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Environmental Working Group and Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Tap Water Blues,” Oct. 1994.
[25] Lewis Regenstein, How to Survive in America the Poisoned (Herndon, VA: Acropolis Books, 1982), pg. 173.
[26] EPA study cited in USA Today, Sept. 13, 1994.
[27] Rachels Environment and Health Weekly, #450, July 13, 1995.
[28] Ibid.
[29] “A Brief Review of Selected Environmental Contamination Incidents with a Potential for Health Effects,” prepared by the Library of Congress for the Committee on Environment and Public Works, US Senate (Aug 1980), pg. 173-174.
[30] Carl Safina, “The Worlds Imperiled Fish,” Scientific American, Nov. 1995.
[31] Lester Brown and Gary Gardner, State of the World 1996,W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1996 pg. 93
[32] Frances Moore Lappe, Diet for a Small Planet, 10th Anniversary edition (New York: Ballantine Books, 1982), pg. 69.
[33] Brown, Lenssen and Kane, Vital Signs 1995, Worldwatch Institute, 1995, pg. 137.
[34] USDA, Economic Research Service, “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, WASD-256,” July 11, 1991, tables 256,-7, -16, -19, -23.
[35] USDA, Agricultural Statistics 1989; pg. 31, table 40, “Corn: Supply and Disappearance US, 1974-1988.”
[36] USDA, Economic Research Service, “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, WASD-256,” July 11, 1991, pg. 17.
[37] Amended Petition Requesting the Food and Drug Administration to Halt the Feeding of Ruminant Animal Protein to Ruminants, The Foundation of Economic Trends, Washington, DC, June 3, 1993.
[38] James W. Oltjen, “Potential Sources of Water Contamination from Confined and Grazing Animal Operations,” Animal Agriculture: Impacts on Water Quality in California,University of California, Davis, October 1994, pg. 10.
[39] Gurney Williams III, “Swearing Off the Miracle,” Vegetarian Times, Feb, 1994.
[40] USDA figures as cited in Frances Moore Lappe, op. cit. note 35, pg. 70.
[41] Lester Brown, op. cit, note 1.
[42] “Eating into the deficit,” US News and World Report,March 6, 1995, pg. 73-78.
[43] Colin Greer, “Something is Robbing Our Children,” Parade Magazine, March 5, 1995.
[44] Patricia Allen, “The Human Face of Sustainable Agriculture,” Issue Paper No. 4, Nov. 1994, University of California, Santa Cruz, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.
[45] Lester Brown, as quoted by Resenberger, “Curb on US Waste Urged to Help the Worlds Hungry,” New York Times, 14 Nov. 1974, adjusted using 1988 figures from USDA, Agricultural Statistics 1989, table 74, “High Protein Feeds,” and table 75, “Feed Concentrates Fed to Livestock and Poultry.”
[46] Council for Science and Technology, How Much Land Can Ten Billion People Spare for Nature?, Feb. 1994, pg. 13.
[47] Lester Brown and Gary Gardner, op. cit. note 34., pg. 4.

The original message (from Kate Cooties at the now defunct)
http://cooties.punkrock.net) to you is simple:

Don’t Eat Meat.

When I was eleven, I became a vege- tarian*, not out of any growing concern for it’s global  impact or for my health, but because every time I sat down for a meal, I felt guilty

Guilty that I was violating another being’s right not to be killed. In the last 8* years, I have found many other reasons which keep me on this path. Some are ethical, some are environmental, and many are for health concerns.

#1: Cruelty to animals.

Life starts for pigs on rape racks, where the sow is held neck first in a wooden stock while male pigs are let loose at the backs of rows and rows of suffering sows are forcibly impregnated. Or, more commonly, male pigs are not involved except for their own exploitation by the factory farmers, who milk their sperm and then personally rape the sows with their own hands. This is the indignity of artificial insemination. Their babies are taken away from them to be raised for slaughter, or if they don’t measure up size-wise for the pork-eating consumer, they too will join the masses on the rape racks. As for chickens, egg hens are kept in battery cages, 4 or 6 to each pen, which gives them about the same area to stand on as a 12″ record cover (and this may be a generous estimate on my part), the wire floors of the cages cause their feet to atrophy and they are no longer able to stand up. Their wings atrophy from not being able to stretch them out in the tiny cages. Because animals confined to such close quarters will turn on their cellmates and often injure themselves, their beaks are removed with searing hot wire as the factory farmer’s standard precaution to losing their “product” through self inflicted injuries. These are literally sickeningly small cages to be subjected to, as disease spreads quickly through the close quarters, and the wire cage bottoms usually mean that the birds end up standing in their own feces, as the cages are not cleaned. This is what the REAL manufacterers go through to bring eggs to the table. And baby chickens suffer a different type of horror — unless their “owners” determine that they too should be confined as their parents were, they are thrown into plastic bags and crushed with sledge hammers to be used in food products for both humans and other animals. Like chickens, cows suffer the indignity of being confined to cages and pens to small to turn around in. Their horns and tails are removed by the factory farmer, and when they are fat enough to kill, they face a 2-3 day ride to the slaughter house without food or water, which makes many cows to sick to walk off of the transport trucks by themselves, in which case they are “downed.” Downing cattle is commonplace at the slaughterhouse, where workers don’t think twice before tying a rope to the neck of the animal before driving the truck out from underneath the cow. The cows who go through this usually end up with neck and/or leg injuries, and it’s not uncommon for one or more legs to be broken in the process. Milk cows are also confined to the tiny pens, only they are pumped full of hormones to keep them pregnant and producing milk (the hormone’s used have now been found to cause precocious puberty among human milk-drinkers).

#2: Environmental impact.

In the United States alone, 50% of water and 33% of raw materials are used for meat production and 40% of the world’s grain is fed to animals going to slaughter. Cattle and sheep consume 90% of forage on 70% of western public land — this is land owned by you and I, wasted on feeding animals bred SPECIFICALLY to be murdered, which I consider to be a waste of both their lives and our resources. Overgrazing, such as takes place on these public lands, brought one third of the North American continent intoirreversible desertification — it is officially useless land because of this abuse. 87% of US agricultural land is used for livestock production, which amounts to more than half of the loss of US topsoil. One quarter pound hamburger is responsible for the destruction of 55 square feet of rainforest. More than half of the destroyed rainforest is caused by raising livestock, and at the present rate, the rainforests will be gone by the year 2010. Thank you McMurder. The feed it takes to produce one 8-ounce steak could produce 45-50 cups of cooked grain. The plot of land needed to produce food for one person on a meat based diet would feed 12 vegetarians, or 20 vegans. One acre of land can produce 165 pounds of beef, or 20,000 pounds of potatoes. Meat contributes to world hunger, and if the United States alone cut it’s meat consumption by a mere 10%, we would save enough grain to feed the 60million people who will otherwise die of starvation this year. On top of all this, US livestock produce more than 20 times the amount of waste as US humans, and the feedlots they live on have no sewage system, which amounts to much of our water pollution. You’re drinking it.

#3: Health.

The average US male has a 50% chance ofdying from heartattack (#1 killer in the states). A male vegetarian, however, has only a 10% chance of heartattack, and only a 4% chance of dying from one. Male meat eaters have a 300% greater chance of prostate cancer than to vegan males. It is the fat and protein content of meat and dairy which causes most cancers, stroke, obesity, diabetes and osteoporosis. Even Thoreau knew that vegetables and grains could supply all of our needed proteins. In Walden, he said:

One farmer said to me, “You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with;” and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plough along in spite of every obstacle.

Thoreau had the right idea, because human bodies are, in fact, polluted by the products derived from the animals we abuse, be they meat, eggs or dairy. Meat products are pumped full of hormones during the “manufacturing” processes; hormones used to decrease the time between pregnancies and to increase fertility have caused meat and milk consumption to lead to reproductive problems and precocious puberty. Feed laced with anti-biotics (used to decrease the rapid spreading diseases rampant in factory farms) contribute to yeast infections in female meat consumers, and also to an increased tolerance to anti-biotics in humans, thereby decreasing one of humans’ ways to cure their illnesses (many of which are caused by their meat consumption). 30% of pork products contain toxoplasmosis, a blood disease which can be passed to human consumers, and which is caused by the parasites which thrive in the factory farms’ close conditions. 90% of factory chickens have leukosis, a chicken cancer (psst, it ain’t gristle!); and 90% of federally inspected chicken products have some degree of salmonellosis.

If this isn’t enough to move you, I’d like to dispell some of the myths associated with meat consumption. The meat industry has created it’s own dialect to desensitize consumers to the callousness of eating meat. Because it might dissuade people from eating chickens if one said “Pass the lovehandles” that approximate part of the bird is called the “oyster” for it’s “tenderness and eating qualities.” Cow’s are defined by their “prime rib” and “choice cuts” as opposed to their entire beings (the equivalent to reducing a human to a “piece of ass”, one sole body part and function, as opposed to a sentient being). The very idea of “livestock” is a contradiction in terms, “live” implying feelingness and being, and “stock” meaning product. Who wants to be a living product?

It may be just as hard to shake our memory of being taught the nutrition pyramid in elementary school, which taught us that half of our dietary needs could only be fulfilled through meat and dairy products. What they didn’t teach you was that the pyramid was propaganda sponsored by a beef council, the Poultry Council, an egg board and a dairy association. The pyramid was furthered by the US government, who, in an effort to stimulate the post-depression economy, encouraged the consumption of these frivolous and harmful products (meat and dairy) to boost the farmer’s income and output.

Industry spokesmen aren’t about to remind you that humans are primates. Primates are herbivores, almost entirely without exception — some apes will eat insects, but overall have a strict vegetarian diet. Natural carnivores have short digestive tracts to expel the toxic waste products associated with meat consumption. Human’s digestive tract is 12 times their body length. The excessive lengths of time of time that meat waste spends in our digestive tracts contributes to colon cancer and other diseases.

For these reasons, I will never eat meat again, and I hope that others will follow this example. For animals’ sake, for this planet’s sake, for YOUR sake –

Don’t eat meat.


This is a speech that I [Kate Cooties] gave in high school in order to encourage vegetarianism. It was originally written for my AP psychology class in junior year, and later for forensics meets.

I’ve spoken on the topic of veganism a few times since then, but it’s been a while. If it had been written more  recently, I would add facts to it from a wonderful video I saw about vegan nutrition — like that heartattacks did not EXIST before this century, they are the product of years of cholesterol from meat and dairy consumption — which also did not exist in it’s present [and absurdly high] level until just recently; and that depending on dairy products for one’s calcium requirements is actually detrimental to one’s health because the excess protein found in meat and dairy prevents the body from absorbing calcium, thereby negating the purpose of eating dairy for that reason.

Knowing what I do, I know that there is no other viable, responsible, ethical way of living, except to strive for as much of a cruelty free lifestyle as possible.

That means veganism. NOW.
– kate cooties –
veg since 1989.
vegan since 1996.