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Inefficiency of the production of meat and diary

Efficiency of Meat – Why Eating Animal Products is a Bad Use of Resources

Want to know more about the efficiency of meat, milk, eggs or cheese? Then you've come to the right place. It's not just compassion for innocent cows, pigs or chickens that motivates people to eat a plant-based diet. Ecological and ethical motives also play a major role. These include, above all, the extreme inefficiency of animal-based food production. Even if the system of the industry is trimmed for efficiency from the point of view of those responsible, the benefit for the world (society) is the exact opposite - regardless of whether we are talking about animals from the Factory farming or talk about an idyllic organic farm.

In this article, I would like to briefly and concisely explain the most important facts about the efficiency of meat and other animal-based foods - and show you why exploiting animals to enrich our taste buds is a thing of the past. Let's go!

You can find a brief overview of the article here:

  1. Background
  2. Agricultural land
  3. Calorie supply
  4. Protein supply
  5. Closing words

Why we need to talk about the efficiency of meat, eggs, milk and cheese

Animal husbandry and meat production inefficient

If something is efficient, then it has a high level of effectiveness when measured against its use. In simplified terms, efficiency means, A lot can be achieved with relatively little effort. In this case, the production of food is the effort. But what is this effort even for? The main goal is to feed everyone in the world as sustainably and healthily as possible - and to avoid social problems such as the Stop world hunger.

Unfortunately, the production of animal-based foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products takes us away from these goals because of the high costs involved. (feed cultivation, grazing land, transportation, water consumption, CO2 and methane emissions, etc.) is necessary. By 2050, the already very high global demand for meat is set to increase by an alarming 73 percent.₁

The possibility conserve natural resources and the plants grown directly and evenly without the "detour animal is the reason why we absolutely have to talk about the efficiency of animal-based foods.

Efficiency in animal husbandry
Global land use for food production / Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Global land use for food production. Available at

Utilized agricultural land for animal and plant foods

The data situation is clear: "livestock farming" for meat and milk occupies a significant share of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) already today with 77 percent more than three quarters of the world's agricultural land. Only 23 percent of this area is used to grow plants for our direct consumption.₂

This alone Massive space requirements for animal foodstuffs is one of the reasons why the efficiency of meat, milk and eggs is truly subterranean in terms of the benefits for us humans and all life on earth. Yet it is only one of several efficiency-determining factors.

Good to know: For example, we Germans use 11.7 million hectares of agricultural land abroad to satisfy our appetite for meat.₃

Shares of animal products and vegan foods in global calorie supply

Global calorie supply: efficiency of meat and plants

The inefficiency becomes even more tangible if we add another aspect: namely the share of the Calories provided worldwidewhich are generated by the surface area described above.

Although the "animal as food producer" already occupies 77 percent of the world's land area, it only provides 18 percent of the calories that the Growing world population records. The The production of plant-based food is much more efficient - 82 percent of the calories consumed by mankind grow on 23 percent of the available land area.

The shares of meat and plants in the global protein supply

Many people assume that they would not get enough protein without meat - but this is a widespread misconception. Only 37 percent of our global protein intake comes from animal products such as meat and milk - and take up 77 percent of the land area for this purpose. A full 63 percent of proteins are attributable to the direct consumption of plant-based foods (e.g. broccoli, chickpeas, beans, oatmeal), for which only 23 percent of the global land area needs to be cultivated.

Tip: You can now also find out more in a detailed article, vegan protein sources inform

Inefficient animal husbandry - everyone can benefit from a plant-based diet

Cultivation of plants for food production

Apart from the moral question of their exploitation, animals are quite simply inefficient suppliers of nutrients. We produce a small proportion of our food using a lot of land, a lot of animal suffering and high energy and water consumption. This is absurdly inefficient. With significantly less land, water and energy consumption - and of course less animal suffering - a plant-based diet could produce significantly more food for us humans.

This is much more efficient and ultimately saves us humans from ourselves in view of the predictions of increasing meat consumption. At the same time, a vegan diet also helps to free up more land for nature and animals. For example, the Species extinction stopped be

The livestock farming system is a sick, outdated model - and is already only artificially ventilated by state subsidies. Every intelligent economist in the world would keep their hands off it.

Do you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article about the efficiency of meat, eggs or milk? Then I look forward to your comment.

Stay efficient,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: In a separate article, I will explain all of my personal Motives for the vegan way of life.

₁ UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Global meat consumption, World, 1961 to 2050. Available at [11.04.2022].

₂ UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Global land use for food production, available at [11.04.2022].

₃ Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (BUND): Fleischkonsum der Deutschen schaden Klima und Umwelt im Ausland (as of 09.02.2021), available at [11.04.2022].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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