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Agriculture is responsible for 70% of water consumed by humans on the planet. It takes roughly 100 liters of water to grow 1 kilogram of potatoes and 4,000 liters for 1 kilogram of rice. To raise 1 kilogram of beef takes nearly 13,000 liters of water. Therefore, one 150-gram burger patty is responsible for nearly 1,950 liters of water. The equivalent amount could grow 20 kilograms of potatoes.
Over 14 billion burgers are consumed in the United States each year. At 150 grams per patty, Americans eat nearly 6 million kilograms of burger meat each day. The total amount of beef consumed daily by Americans, including steaks and other forms of the meat, is nearly 33 million kilograms. The production of that beef consumes nearly 429 billion liters of water. The equivalent amount could grow over 4 billion kilograms of potatoes, enough to give nearly every human on the planet 2 potatoes every day.
China’s total daily beef consumption is over 17 million kilograms per year, about half of what the United States consumes. With a population of over 1.6 billion, the average Chinese eats about 4 kilograms of beef each year. With a population of over 300,000, the average American eats nearly 40 kilograms of beef each year, 10 times that of the average Chinese.
Roughly 30 percent of the planet’s entire land surface is used by livestock. Over 1/3 of global arable land is used to produce feed for livestock with nearly 50 percent of all world grains going to feed animals or to be converted into biofuels. Whereas rain forests once covered 14 percent of the planet’s land surface, they now only cover 6 percent, with over 6,000 square meters slashed every second of every day. Nearly 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.
The average cow belches 6 liters of methane per day. The estimated population of cattle in the world is 1.5 billion. That means that each day on this planet cows belch 9 billion liters, 3.3 trillion liters per year, 37 percent of all human-induced methane emissions. Methane works as a greenhouse gas and traps 23 times as much heat as carbon dioxide. Cattle are also responsible for 65 percent of human-induced nitrous oxide emissions and 64 percent of ammonia emissions—UN reports affirm that cattle-rearing contributes more to global warming than automobiles and other forms of transportation combined.
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According to UN reports, 100 grams of insects can provide more than 100 percent of daily recommended minerals and vitamins. For every 100 grams of dried caterpillars, there are 53 grams of protein. The raising of insects can have a positive environmental impact in conjunction with waste disposal and offer nearly 250 percent more protein than the equivalent amount of beef.
Edible Insects, Important Source of Protein in Central Africa. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2008.
How Much Would it Cost to Eat Like a Mediterranean? Mediterranean Book. February 27, 2010.
Andrus, Becki. Rising Medical Bills Because of Obesity. Ezine Articles. July, 2010.
Daley, Erin and Joel Haggard. Greater China Region Presents Opportunities For U.S. Beef. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. July 2010.
U.S. Beef and Cattle Industry. USDA Economic Research Service. July 30, 2010.
Rearing Cattle Produces More Greenhouse Gases Than Driving Cars, UN Report Warns. UN News Center. November 29, 2006.
Home. Dir. Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Elzevir Films. 2009.
Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat, Crowded. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux; 1 edition. September 8, 2008.