A thought-provoking new report was published on the "Our World In Data" website. It collects statistics from around the world on the slaughter of animals for meat.
"Our World In Data" is a site founded by Max Roser, a researcher at Oxford University. The project collects data about the modern world and presents them in an accessible way. On September 26, Rosner published a new report on the slaughter of animals raised for meat.
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How many animals are slaughtered each day?
The data in the report is from 2021 and was collected by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Globally, each day we slaughter for meat:
- 900,000 cows,
- 1.4 million goats,
- 1.7 million sheep,
- 3.8 million pigs,
- 11.8 million ducks,
- 202 million chickens,
- Hundreds of millions of fish.
Data on fish is estimated, as it is the most difficult to collect. However, the numbers are certainly in the hundreds of millions. 202 million chickens per day means that 140,000 of these animals are killed every minute of every day.
The article accompanying the data highlights that industrially raised animals, the majority of those we eat, live in terrible conditions. Pigs are kept in cramped pens, living in chronic discomfort and stress. Calves are taken away from cows to produce milk for human consumption.
Many animals are castrated without anesthetic. Chickens are often stripped of their beaks to keep them from fighting other chickens out of discomfort and pain as many are kept in tight cages where they cannot turn around their entire lives, Our World in Data reports.
Why we should limit meat consumption?
The article also cites other arguments for limiting meat consumption besides the (un)humanitarian ones:
Climate benefits: Reducing global meat consumption would help in the fight against climate change. It would reduce direct emissions from cow burps and nitrous oxide from manure, but it would also reduce emissions from deforestation and land use change. About 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions directly come from the livestock industry.
Less land use for agriculture and more biodiversity: The massive use of land for agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss. Currently, nearly half of the world's ice-free and desert-free land is used for agriculture, and more than 80% of it is used only for fodder to raise animals for meat. Total global land use for meat and dairy production is 37 million square kilometres, or as much as the area of the Americas - from Alaska in the North to Cape Horn in the South.
Less antibiotic resistance: Reducing global meat consumption would reduce the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, which contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The reduction would help preserve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics and human health worldwide. We recently wrote that according to a study by Polish scientists, antibiotics used in breeding hens and chickens are present in the drinking water of local residents.