I am curious how much arable land and water is used in the production of meat, dairy, eggs, and other farmed-animal products. This should include the resources used for production of the feed for the animals.

Expressed as a percentage of total in the industry would be fine.

Followup question would be: how much of that land and water could be used to directly produce food to replace the animal products?

1 Answer 1



8.06 quintillion liters, or 2.129 quintillion gallons, of water, is used each year for meat worldwide. 30% of Earth's land mass is used for these animals.

How I got There

Meat: About 20,029 liters (5,291 gallons) of water is used to produce only one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of meat. After doing some research and math I've come up with the conclusion that 402,564,650,860 kg of meat is produced each year worldwide. Times that by 20,028 liters per kg and 8,062,564,800,000,000 (8.06 quintillion) liters, or 2,129,904,290,486,564 (2.129 quintillion) gallons, of water is used each year for meat worldwide.

Land: 30% of all of Earth's land mass is used for farm animals (about 80% of all agricultural land), that includes grazing and land used to grow feed crops. Totaling the land used for farm animals upkeep to 95,063,950 kilometers (or for US peoples, 59,070,000 miles).

Math: My math only takes into account common farm animals and an average meat production. This doesn't take into account the chickens up kept for eggs, though they're usually the same chickens that get slaughtered.

World as Vegans: If you would like to know, meals for a vegan only takes 1136 liters (300 gallons) per day. If there are 7.5 billion people in the world, if everyone was vegan then the total water consumption for food production per year would be 3,109,800,000,000,000 (3.1 quintillion) liters or 821,522,248,423,369 (821.5 quadrillion) gallons per year!

Greenhouse Gasses: Also, you should keep in mind that animals are responsible for 18% of the world greenhouse gasses; that's more than all of Earth vehicles combined.

List of Total Meat

Pounds of meat per common farm animal total worldwide:

  • Chickens: 6,693,208,760 kilograms of meat per year.
  • Pigs: 63,815,002,100 kilograms of meat per year.
  • Cows: 332,056,440,000 kilograms of meat per year.


  • When you say "animals are responsible for 18% of the world greenhouse gasses" is that the amount that comes directly from the livestock or is that including every step in the production (transportation and production of the livestock and their feed), or is it somewhere in between?
    – Kiochi
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 14:46
  • No, just the amount animals produce with bodies. It doesn't include transportation, production, and processing. Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 17:03
  • You said "chickens kept for eggs [are] usually the same chickens that get slaughtered". Although true that both end up at slaughter, the laying breeds used for egg production are very different from the broiler chickens used for meat production.
    – Nic
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 23:57

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