Eat Less Beef
No Bull Save Water

Your World: Get the facts on the damaging impact of beef production on our environment.

Small family farms have been replaced by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (a.k.a. factory farms) producing a total of 100 million cattle in the U.S.--each requiring 30 lbs of feed a day! Supporting this large industry places a massive strain on our resources.


  • Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that "in terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, [people eating less meat] clearly is the most attractive" way to fight climate change.September, 2008

  • On average, each American consumes 67 pounds of beef each year. —USDA Economics Research Service Study.

  • The livestock sector contributes more to global warming than transportation because livestock production generates even more harmful greenhouse gases than CO2. These harmful gases include, methane with 23 times the global warming potential of CO2, and nitrous oxide with 296 times the global warming potential of CO2. Methane is a by-product of the animals’ digestive process and nitrous oxide is produced from their manure. — Livestock’s Long Shadow, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006.

  • In the U.S., cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20% of U.S. methane emissions. Methane is the second most destabilizing gas to the planet’s climate.—EPA

  • Livestock production is the largest single use of land in the country.—USDA Economic Research Services Statistical Bulletin, 1997. 

  • U.S. corn eaten by livestock: 77 percent—World Maize Trends and Facts, Animal Science, 1993-4.

  • According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.

  • Most of the clearance of tropical rainforests is done to produce pasture or cropland for growing animal feed. —"The Great Rainforest Tragedy," The Independent, 2003. 

  • If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:
    *100 billion gallons of water,enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
    *1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
    *70 million gallons of gas -- enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
    *3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
    *33 tons of antibiotics. —Compiled from scientific reports by Noam Mohr, a physicist with the New York University Polytechnic Institute, from The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day

  •  A report by the U.S. Forest Service named cattle grazing in the American West "the number one cause of species being put on the endangered species list in the Southwest and fourth major cause, nationwide."—"Cash Cows," San Jose Mercury News, Special Report, 1999.

  • Between 2,500-5,000 gallons of water (~ 100-200 showers) is needed to produce one pound of beef.  About 25 gallons of water is needed to produce one pound of lettuce, tomatoes and wheat.— University of California Agricultural Extension & Dr. Georg Borgstrom, Chairman of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University.

  • “Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising cattle, pigs and chickens, instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry.  India, china and the US are all running fresh water deficits pumping more from their aquifers than is being replenished.”—Time Magazine, 1999.

  • Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. If we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day --that's twice the grain they would need to survive. "The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we -- the relatively affluent -- have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly."—Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer

  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (aka. factory farms) are now the norm and getting more and more congested with the number of animals per acre increasing 60 percent from 1982 to 1997.— New Clean Water Act Regulations Create Imperative for Livestock Producers, USDA Economics Research Service, 2003.

  • Factory Farms confine thousands of animals in one facility, and produce staggering amounts of animal waste in the process (500 million tons per year). Because the animal waste is heavy and costly to transport, producers often apply more of it to crops on nearby fields than the crops can actually absorb.  The excess waste often leaches into the groundwater or runs into nearby rivers and streams.—Sierra Club

  • Factory Farms create one of the nation's most dangerous water pollution problems with hog, chicken and cattle waste polluting 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.—Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) / United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1998.

  • In addition to water pollution, the extractive process used in growing massive quantities of feed crops take a toll on the land.  Growers bypass traditional methods of sustainability such as crop rotation, creating furrows to prevent erosion, and growing cover crops in the off season.  As a result the land is becoming unusable as an average of seven tons of soil is eroded from every acre of cropland land each year.— “Sustainable Soil Management: Soil Systems Guide.” National Center for Appropriate Technology, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, 2004.

Sustainable Choices

The Eat Well Guide

Delicous Beef-Free Recipes

The Humane Society:
Eating for the Environment

Comprehensive Links

The GRACE Factory
Farm Project

The Meatrix Films

What else you can do

Organic Farming Research Foundation
Urge Your Representative to Join  the Organic Caucus