Thirsty: How Livestock Production is Drinking Up Our Diminishing Water Supply

To save time, I zest and juice a bunch of lemons at a time to use throughout the week (I use a lot of it) and keep it in a container in the fridge. This week, I squeezed about 8 large-sized lemons and yielded approximately half of the juice I typically receive. As I am squeezing them with all my might, I am looking out my kitchen window and seeing the dehydrated, pale yellow-colored plants and leaves on the hill in my backyard. California is in a serious drought. We had virtually no rain this year (I remember one storm). It is terrifying to witness the impacts of climate change. But the worst part is that of all the fresh water we do have, we are wasting the vast majority of it on livestock production.

Here are some horrifying facts on fresh water usage from Comfortably Unaware’s Dr. Richard Oppenlander:
—>50% of all the water used in the U.S. is given to the animals people eat.
—>70 billion animals are raised and killed each year for food. A few billion of these animals need up to 40 or more gallons of water per day…which is over 100 times what we, individually, consume daily.
—>The average water footprint per calorie of beef is TWENTY times larger than for grains.
—>Legumes (or “pulses”: lentils, beans, peas) require FORTY-FIVE times less water to produce versus beef and they are excellent sources of protein.
—>To produce 1 pound of meat, it takes:

  • 1,800-2,500 gallons of water per pound of beef
  • 731 gallons per pound of sheep
  • 127 gallons per pound of goat
  • 468 gallons per pound of chicken
  • 880 gallons per gallon of milk
  • 60-120 gallons to produce 1 egg
  • 11.6 gallons to slaughter and process 1 chicken

*The image below is from Farmscape (see link below) and the data is a few years old, but the ratios of comparison say it all, which is why I used it. The most recent data from Dr. Oppenlander is as above.

CA approves fines for water usage because of drought
The Vegetarian Resource Group‘s Save Our Water
Food Tank: The Food Think Tank‘s Meat’s Large Water Footprint
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Livestock Water Use
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Livestock Longshadow
Farmscape water use
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Food Choice and Sustainability by Dr. Oppenlander
Dr. Oppenlander: Your Role in Global Depletion (video)

2016-11-29T15:11:14+00:00July 17th, 2014|Social and Environmental Issues|