The Water Footprint of Livestock

After researching the effects of raising livestock and poultry for meat, I found that the negative consequences were even worse than I expected. The total amount of water needed to produce one pound of beef is 1,799 gallons of water and one pound of pork takes 576 gallons of water. (Food Tank). As a comparison, the water footprint of soybeans only takes 216 gallons of water. Beef requires the largest amount of water because the bigger the animal, the more resources required such as more drinking water and water to clean etc. However, the resources that beef requires goes way beyond just water. The thousands of pounds of food cows are fed such as corn require large quantities of fertilizers, land, and fuel for farming machines, and lead to more fossil fuels and pollution. This ties into our class discussion about how cows produce large amounts of methane.

This issue is important because global meat production has doubled and will continue this upward trend. It is difficult to suggest people to become vegetarian, but reducing meat intake by 1/3 could lead to a 1/3 reduction in water usage. There is not a single human activity that affects the planet more than raising livestock.

This photo gives a visual of how water usage sky rockets due to the consumption of beef.


4 thoughts on “The Water Footprint of Livestock

  1. I really like the graphic you included because it really put the water consumption related to the meat industry into perspective. Your graphic reminds me of the activity we did in class yesterday where we compared the amount of carbon dioxide to air in volleyballs because your graphic helps me better visualize how only 4 burgers used more water than a typical household which is crazy!

  2. This is really interesting! I had never realized how much water it takes to raise livestock and these statistics are scary. I also agree with Marielle about the graphic. It provides great insight into how much water is actually needed to produce meat in comparison to people’s everyday water usage.

  3. It’s crazy to see just how much water goes into meat production, especially beef. It seems like there is no ideal option when it comes to a type of meat’s water footprint, but we should be doing as much as we can to alleviate some of these techniques of excess water usage. Also loved the graphic, it really help to visualize just how much water is used.

  4. Adrianna, Great post. It really makes me think about livestock for food. Is it really worth it. I think that we all should cut down our meat intake and increase our vegetable intake. That being said I think that it still remains to be explored which vegetables require the least water. Also, another question: How are these plants watered, is it from rain or irrigation systems. Definitely want to know more.

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