Cows crowded in a factory farm being raised for meat Raising animals for food is having a severe impact on the planet. - Media Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

20 Livestock Companies Generate More Greenhouse Gas Than Britain, France, Or Germany

The meat and dairy industries are responsible for high levels of emissions and food wastage, a new report says


3 Minutes Read

A new report has brought to light the devastating impacts of the meat and dairy industries on the environment. It concluded that drastic changes in diet are needed to protect the planet.

The problem with meat and dairy

The Meat Atlas is an annual report based on scientific and official data on meat production and consumption. It’s published by the Heinrich-Boll-Stiftung Foundation – a political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party – alongside Friends of the Earth Europe, the European branch of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network.

The 76-page report found that 20 livestock companies are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than Britain, France, or Germany. 

Further, the five largest meat and milk producers generate the same volume of greenhouse gases as Exxon, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. 

Land use was also identified as a problem area. The report found that three-quarters of agricultural land around the world is used to raise animals or grow the crops that feed them. 

“In Brazil alone, 175m hectares is dedicated to raising cattle,” the Meat Atlas reads. That much land is roughly the same as all of the European Union’s agricultural area combined.

Animal agriculture can put public health at risk, too.  

The Meat Atlas points out that the overuse of antibiotics in the animal food system is causing microbial resistance. “This threatens the effectiveness of antibiotics, one of the most important types of treatment in human medicine,” it says. 

Halving meat consumption

chickens crowded in a factory farm being raised for meat
Adobe. Do not use without permission. A new report has called for a significant reduction in meat intake for the sake of the planet.

Billions of dollars are being poured into these operations, the report notes. In the five years leading up to 2020, global meat and dairy companies were given more than US$478 billion in backing. 

The funds came from 2,500 banks, investment firms, and pension funds. 

The Meat Atlas said that much financial backing could significantly propel the industries’ output. Meat production could go up by another 40 million tonnes by 2029, reaching 366 million tonnes a year.

A lot of that meat could go to waste if current practices continue. For instance, in France alone, more than 200 million animals in the country’s food system die each year without being used for meat. Animals are culled and disposed for economic reasons, or die from sickness. 

In Germany, up to 200,000 male dairy calves, 45 million male chicks, and 8.6 million piglets born in the food system are slaughtered prematurely. These animals are often considered byproducts of the industry so are discarded and not used for food. 

Overall, governments aren’t doing enough to curb the problem, the report suggests. “Despite the global impact of meat, no country in the world has a strategy to reduce consumption or transform production,” it reads. 

The developed world must halve its consumption of meat in order to protect biodiversity and the climate, the report concludes, adding that ‘a surprising amount’ of the public support lowering meat intake. 

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The Author

Jemima Webber

Jemima is the Head of Editorial of Plant Based News. Aside from writing about climate and animal rights issues, she studies psychology in Newcastle, Australia (where she was born).

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9 months ago

In my 64 years of life I’ve eaten meat, and I’ve tried this vegan diet as well, and since I have a choice people like you relish taking away…..I choose meat, it’s put here for our use, it wasn’t put here for you to issue ultimatums to our personal diets, you will never win this war, so why try and fight one you cannot hope to win? Vegans go home, you aren’t going to change anything.

Plant Based News Moderator
Plant Based News Moderator
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Hi Ray, Thank you for your comment.

The reason people choose a vegan lifestyle and a plant-based diet is not for personal gain. As this article is about the environment, you can see there are many important reasons to look into adopting a vegan lifestyle and plant-based diet.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
9 months ago

Firstly, no such thing as a vegan diet. Veganism is an animal rights movement pure and simple, nothing to do with health or the environment. Looking well into the future the only way to feed the world is by the use of integrated mixed agriculture! Carbon free, fertiliser free and chemical free. It worked for 10,000 yrs until the Industrial Revolution and it can work again now, all that is needed is to put the animals back on the land and use them to the benefit of the soil.

Plant Based News Moderator
Plant Based News Moderator
9 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

HI Rowland,

We know that veganism is an animal rights movement, however someone following a “vegan diet” would be someone abstaining from animal product consumption. Otherwise known as a plant-based diet.

The sad truth is, wild animal populations have declined terribly. They would of once been beneficial to our soil, but we swapped their habitat for agriculture, mainly animal agriculture.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have animals roam the land and not feel the need to kill them?

Woody Clithrust
Woody Clithrust
9 months ago

You lost me at your spelling and grammar errors.