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Reasons to become vegetarian – Environmental

“The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future—deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” – WorldWatch Institute


  • The leading causes of rain-forest destruction are livestock and feed-crops (FAO, 2006)

Water scarcity

  • The estimated water required to produce a kilo of beef is 15,415 litres. When you consider that the global average water footprint of wheat is 1827 litre/kg and for potato is 287 litre/kg the waste is plain and obvious (Water foot print org)

Water pollution

  • A crazy fact – fishing nets account for 46% of the trash in the oceans (NationalGeographic, 2018)
  • “There is no doubt that our declining river water quality over the last 20 years is associated with intensification of pastoral farming and the conversion of drystock farmland to dairy farming” – Fiona Proffitt, NIWA science writer

Climate Change

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 % of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation (FAO, 2006)
  • In NZ, the agriculture sector is the largest contributors to greenhouse emissions (contributes 49.2% of NZ’s gross emissions, while the whole energy sector contributes less, 39.8%). (MFE, 2018).

Biodiversity loss

  • Animal agriculture is responsible for extensive deforestation and cultivation of enormous tracks of land. The cultivation of land ruins animals’ natural habitat and forces millions of them to be evicted from their homes, causing long-term harm to our wildlife.
  • Wild animals -from wolves to elk to prairie dogs – pay the price of meat production. Some are killed because they prey on cows; others die en masse to make room for agricultural operations; still more are put in harm’s way by pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change (take extinction off your plate).
  • By choosing to go veg, you are taking extinction off your plate!


  • For every 1 kg of fish caught, up to 5 kg of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill (FAO,
  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted (UN, 2006)

Going (and staying!) vegetarian is the only genuine way to cut down on the massive impact the meat-eating diet is having on our planet.


  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2006): The Livestock’s Long Shadow. Available at:
  2. Natural Resources Defense Council (2005). ‘Facts about pollution from Livestock Farms’. Available at:
  3. Take Extinction Off Your Plate:
  4. Water foot print org: Product gallery. Available at:
  5. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Discards and Bycatch in Shrimp Trawl Fisheries.
    Available at:
  6. UN News Centre (2006) Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity Available at:
  7. Nationalgeographic (2018). The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Isn’t What You Think it Is. Available at:
  8. NIWA (2010). How clean are our rivers? Available at:
  9. Ministry for the Environment (2018). New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Available at:

Some interesting links with further information: