Animal-based Diet v. Plant-based Diet: Land Use
An Environmental Article from


A Well-Fed World
April 2018

It’s time to abandon the excuses, the fake facts and false comforts about eating animals. It is time to see our moral choices as our descendants will.

land use

A common misconception we encounter is, "If the world went vegan, we wouldn't have enough land to grow crops to feed everyone!" In reality, a diet that includes animal products requires *far* more land than a plant-based diet. Global animal agriculture currently raises and slaughters some 70 BILLION land animals for food every year. Think about all of the land needed to house, graze, and grow feed crops for 70 billion animals.

By comparison, it takes drastically less land, water, energy, and crops to grow plant foods for 7 billion humans. In fact, a United Nations Environment Program analysis of global agricultural yields finds that better use of existing croplands could feed 3.5 billion more people simply by shifting away from growing crops for animal feed and instead growing crops for direct human consumption. Reallocating croplands in this way could increase available global food calories by as much as 70 percent, according to researchers.

In a recent article for The Guardian, "Goodbye— And Good Riddance— to Livestock Farming," environmental journalist George Monbiot notes:

"Almost all forms of animal farming cause environmental damage, but none more so than keeping them outdoors. The reason is inefficiency. Grazing is not just slightly inefficient, it is stupendously wasteful. Roughly twice as much of the world’s surface is used for grazing as for growing crops, yet animals fed entirely on pasture produce just one gram out of the 81g of protein consumed per person per day.

...That vast expanse of pastureland, from which we obtain so little at such great environmental cost, would be better used for rewilding: the mass restoration of nature. Not only would this help to reverse the catastrophic decline in habitats and the diversity and abundance of wildlife, but the returning forests, wetlands and savannahs are likely to absorb far more carbon than even the most sophisticated forms of grazing.

The end of animal farming might be hard to swallow. But we are a resilient and adaptable species. We have undergone a series of astonishing changes: the adoption of sedentarism, of agriculture, of cities, of industry.

Now it is time for a new revolution, almost as profound as those other great shifts: the switch to a plant-based diet... It’s time to abandon the excuses, the fake facts and false comforts. It is time to see our moral choices as our descendants will."

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