Eat More Chicken

While doing research for this post, I found some pretty unsettling statistics. It’s well known that water plays a massive role in everything we do, and there is no denying its importance. It’s not necessarily something we take for granted, but most of us tend to forget just how much water we actually use on an extremely regular basis.

So here’s one of those troubling numbers: it takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef. This number – beef’s water footprint – is astounding. For comparison’s sake, the amount of water used to produce one pound of beef is equivalent to that of 90 eight-minute showers. These numbers are scary, but the logic behind them makes sense. Beef’s water footprint is so large because the methods of converting cattle to market meat are vastly inefficient, and the amount of time it takes for cattle to metabolize their food is expansive. This is the feed conversion ratio, and it is directly correlated to the amount of water needed to produce beef. The bigger the feed, the bigger the footprint.

There are certainly methods to taming this issue, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a concrete and terminal solution. We don’t need to cut meat out of our diets entirely. Instead, we can choose to eat beef in smaller portions, or even substitute it with chicken (already a healthier option). Chicken’s water footprint is 468 gallons – not perfect, but undoubtedly a huge improvement. Whatever your method may be, make sure to consider these numbers when eating meat.

4 thoughts on “Eat More Chicken

  1. Those statistics are very shocking. It is true that on a daily basis, we as a society take water for granted. I was shocked when I learned how many gallons of water it takes to produce just a single pound of beef and that it is roughly equivalent to 90 eight minute showers. The footprint created by beef is something that we must work towards minimizing over the next decade or else there will definitely be a worldwide water shortage. Although chicken is a better alternative, we must continue to reduce their totals as well because as a society we should work towards eating less meat in general.

  2. I completely agree that there is no concrete or terminal solution to this issue but a possible “solution” to greatly reduce the huge amount of water consumption is to eat locally sourced beef or any food for that matter. Although it will alleviate some of the water consumption, it doesn’t necessarily mean a huge cutback but it will greatly reduce carbon emissions that are used to transport cattle and beef to and from CAFOs.

  3. I had never really thought about the amount of water it takes to produce beef, but these statistics are really scary. It is also really interesting to think about the required amount of water in terms of 90 eight minute showers. I agree that it is extremely difficult to find a foolproof solution, but eating less beef is definitely a good start. Also, this article mentions that it takes 303 gallons of water to make tofu, which is still a lot, but certainly a lot better than beef.

  4. Tim, I am done eating beef. There is no place for such waste. I am switching to chicken. I understand that beef prior to being processed is a living animal that requires a lot of water to grow and in turn produce meat but this type of water wasting is not worth it. I think that this is like my post on leaky faucets. Hopefully we can find a solution to this problem soon.

Leave a Reply