The Case for Sustainable Meat

From Quilette

Published on April 5, 2018
written by Keir Watson

User Mohib Ebrahim notes that this article is an outstanding and thorough article that soundly and roundly dismantles the standard change-farming-to-save-the-planet alarmism, such as that cited in our recent post, here:


I. Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Meat, we are told, is bad for the planet. It causes global warming, destroys forests, diverts substantial proportions of the world’s grain for feed, all to produce meat which only wealthy Westerners can afford. The iniquity of the situation led George Monbiot to declare in 2002 that “Veganism is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue.” Monbiot later recanted but, since then, we are told with increasing regularity that to save the planet we must radically reduce our consumption of meat. In the face of what seems to be universal agreement on the sins of meat eating, is there really a green argument for meat? I think there is, and I think we should be talking about it. Not only is the public discourse heavily one-sided, but the anti-meat message risks destroying the very environment is claims to be protecting.

Let’s start with one of the most repeated statistics used to argue for reduced meat consumption: the claim that 100,000 litres of water are required to produce each kilo of beef – which is a staggering 1000 times more than what is needed to produce a single kilo of wheat. With magazines such as New Scientist uncritically quoting this figure, it is not surprising that it has circulated so widely. Taken at face value, this estimate is shocking and may on its own be responsible for switching tens of thousands of people away from eating meat.


However, there are many different estimates for the amount of water required to produce a kilo of beef. They can’t all be correct. The figure of 100,000 litres – which is one of the largest – comes from agronomist David Pimental (to whom we will return), but many other authorities have attempted to calculate this figure, each starting from different assumptions and political positions. In his book Meat, A Benign Extravagance, author and one-time editor of The Ecologist, Simon Fairlie, painstakingly deconstructs these figures. He points out that a typical beef steer, reared for 500 days, produces 125 kilos of meat at slaughter. From Pimental’s total, we can calculate that such a cow uses over 12 million litres of water during its lifetime – equivalent to an acre of land under ten feet of water. But cows typically drink only 50 litres of water per day, which leads to a figure of 200 litres per kilo or just 0.2 percent of Pimental’s value. How did the agronomist create such a monumentally inflated figure?

Astonishingly, Pimental included all of the rain that fell on the land on which the beef was reared, ignoring the fact that that rain would have fallen whether cattle were there or not. To inflate his alarmist balloon even further, Pimental used the most extreme rainfall figure he could get away with – for ranch cattle which roam over much larger areas than typical European herds. After patiently dismantling many different authors’ statistics, Fairlie concludes that, “The amount of water consumed by a beef cow appears to be a function of your political position.”

The story of how Simon Fairlie came to write his book tells us a lot about the politics behind the AMPAG (anti-meat-posing-as-green) ideology. Fairlie spent ten years living in a permaculture cooperative. They had 13 acres, only one of which was cultivated for crops. Everyone in the commune helped with this task, which provided them with most of their fresh vegetables and some of their fruit. The other 12 acres, however, were grassland, on which Fairlie almost single-handedly reared dairy cows and pigs. Due to the vegetarian predilection of the members of the commune, Fairlie found that although they would eagerly eat the cheese, yogurt, and milk he produced, they drew the line at the 350kg of meat, lard, and dripping that came from the livestock operation annually. So he had to sell it. This would not have been so bad, if not for the fact that the commune was spending £200 a week buying in alternative proteins and fats from halfway across the world: tahini, nuts, rice, lentils, peanut butter, soya. The irony was not lost on him.

Another anti-meat statistic is some variation on the claim that it takes 20kg of grain to produce a kilo of beef. This notion hangs on the false assumption that all farms raise animals in feedlots. In the UK, however, cows and sheep spend most of their life on grass. In winter, when the grass isn’t growing, forage crops (such as beet tops) and agricultural waste (such as straw) are primarily used as winter feed. Grain is an infrequent addition and usually only for a few weeks for ‘finishing’ beef prior to slaughter. So, it turns out that the guilt-trip headline figure is only representative of the worst-case scenario – the confined feedlot system, an industrial farming approach that most UK consumers reject for a host of reasons unrelated to feed efficiency.

David Pimentel, professor of ecology in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (who was also responsible for the distorted water statistic mentioned above) reported at the July 24-26 meeting of the Canadian Society of Animal Science in Montreal that the “U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat.”

It’s a superficially persuasive argument. Unfortunately, in addition to selecting the worst case scenario – feedlot cattle – Pimental also ignores the fact that virtually all the grain used for animal feed is grain deemed unfit for human consumption, either because it was spoiled or contaminated. Grain farmers rely on a market for animal feed to convert spoiled crops into cash. If we all stopped eating meat there would be a lot of spoiled grain going to waste forcing up food prices. So animal farming actually subsidises human grain production rather than competing with it as these misleading statistics imply.

Most AMPAG campaigners also fail to mention livestock by-products. As well as providing meat for human consumption, cows, sheep and pigs produce leather, wool, grease, blood and bones in substantial quantities which are used for a huge number of industrial processes, including making fertilisers for organic farming and even – for a brief time at least – the new five-pound notes. Almost nothing goes to waste.

Source: Farm Credit Knowledge Center

II. Cows As Eco-Vandals

One of the biggest controversies (and misconceptions) about meat production is its contribution to global warming, which reached media prominence following the publication of the 2006 UN report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” This document made the shocking claim that livestock accounts for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, placing it ahead of the transport sector. Now, call me naive, but I thought the cause of global warming was our predilection for burning fossil fuels. Does it seem likely that farming – an activity that took place for thousands of years before the industrial revolution – is likely to be the problem?

For the last decade, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” has contributed to the near-religious dogma that to tackle global warming we all need to eat less meat. However, there are important caveats behind the UN figures that take much of the darkness out of the ‘long shadow.’

Firstly, this is a global figure. It masks the fact that the preponderance of greenhouse gas (GHG) come from deforestation to create new beef pasture or animal feed crops. That is, most of the carbon emissions attributed to the beef are actually from the destruction of the carbon sinks (forests) that preceded them, rather than the ranching itself. Furthermore, this activity is chiefly happening in developing countries. Most developed countries, by contrast, have seen increasing forest cover for many decades. Consequently, when the US did its own analysis of carbon emissions, researchers found that the American livestock industry contributes only 2.8 percent to US GHG emissions. So, even if everyone in the US gave up meat entirely, it would barely put a dent in the country’s emission figures.

Secondly, in many cases it is the value of the extracted timber which drives such deforestation, not the beef production that might follow in its wake. Even if beef production ceased tomorrow, the logging would still take place.

Thirdly, the UN report didn’t consider alternative land use after the loggers had gone. Indeed, researchers have since identified that changing to grassland actually provides the most effective sink and store of soil carbon – far superior to farmland and, surprisingly, even better than replanting forest. Indeed, the Irish Government has identified restoration of grasslands and pasture around the world as a priority with significant potential to mitigate Global Warming. In their analysis, they found that for UK and Irish livestock farms, the greenhouse emissions were negligible. This is in large part because our animals feed primarily on grass for much of the year.

Ploughing up grassland actually releases carbon from long-term soil stores, which makes the idea of switching from livestock to arable farming look decidedly un-green. Ploughing also increases soil erosion, runoff, and nutrient depletion – all factors that are ignored in the AMPAG narrative. Partly because of these environmental issues, the UK government has a target to increase the amount of permanent pasture in the UK as part of its greening agenda. “The principal aim of the new requirement,” says the Natural England Research Report NERR060, “is to ensure maintenance of grassland as one of the most important carbon sinks for climate change mitigation.”

Then there is the issue of dairy. Although most anti-meat advocates won’t come out and say it, dairy production is considerably greener than beef production even by their own dubious calculations. Primarily this is because dairy farming provides protein in the form of milk all year round, not just at slaughter. Besides which, the oft-repeated rhetoric that we can feed the world more efficiently with grains than animal products has another serious flaw: its calculations are based on meeting human energy requirements only, completely overlooking human protein needs.

There are other significant limitations on grain production: in temperate climates, grains produce just one harvest per season and to avoid nutrient depletion and disease build up they have to be rotated with other crops such as potatoes or oilseed rape. Taking into account the reality of the whole farm cycle as well as human protein needs, New Zealand researchers recently found that in temperate climates dairy farming is actually the most environmentally sound way to feed a population.

So rather than seeing farm herbivores as the ultimate eco-vandals it might be time to start appreciating their virtues. Their ability to convert inedible grass into high quality protein as meat and milk should be seen as a gift – a bit of magic that traditional pastoralists recognised and revered.

Read the complete article here.

HT/WUWT reader


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Dodgy Geezer
November 18, 2018 1:38 pm

… the claim that 100,000 litres of water are required to produce each kilo of beef – which is a staggering 1000 times more than what is needed to produce a single kilo of wheat…

I am tired of repeating this.

Water goes in a cycle – it can neither be created nor destroyed (except in a very few obscure cases!) So the ‘amount of water that is used’ for anything is irrelevant. That water still remains to be used again.

When you are encouraged to ‘save water’, you are not saving any water at all. What you are ‘saving’ is the water companies’ requirement to invest more money in water storage, purification and distribution. We could all use as much water as we like so long as that investment was maintained – the water companies would prefer that it wasn’t, and that it went into profits instead.

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 18, 2018 1:56 pm

….cows pee and usually have diarrhea

Reply to  Latitude
November 18, 2018 3:56 pm

Exactly. The net water uptake of any animal cannot exceed 1kg per kg of animal.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
November 19, 2018 7:20 am

Which is then taken up by the consumer and recycled.

Reply to  Latitude
November 18, 2018 5:15 pm

When I was introduced to milking cows, I kept looking at the brown stains on the wall behind the cows.
Many of those stains were five feet up the wall.

The farmer laughed when I asked about the stains, and said “If a cow lifts her tail, don’t stand behind her”.

It may not actually be diarrhea, but definitely ejectile from all of that gas caused by their fermenting food. Noisy too.

Reply to  ATheoK
November 19, 2018 6:42 am

One of my first paying jobs was on dairy farm, 80% of which was shoveling cow poop after milking. Had an old chain drive in floor system to move it out to the honey wagon(look that term up, kids), still had lots of shovel work and then hose down. That was twice a day, without fail. You damned sure did not want it backing up! 😉

Reply to  ATheoK
November 19, 2018 7:38 am

In the summer holidays of 1972 I worked on a farm as the semi-solid waste disposal executive.

Reply to  Latitude
November 19, 2018 4:42 am

if theyre scouring they’re being badly fed or gutsing new spring grass. healthy cows have semifirm poop that forms neat pats you can collect

Fred Middleton
Reply to  ozspeaksup
November 19, 2018 7:21 am

Meadow muffin – happy cow

Robert B
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 18, 2018 5:35 pm

Fresh water. Desalination is expensive. Storing and pumping is cheaper but using potable watet wisely is a good thing.

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  Robert B
November 19, 2018 6:31 am

… using potable water wisely is a good thing….

If you are in a desert with a limited supply – using potable water wisely is a good thing.

If you are in a town with a municipal water supply, not intentionally wasting water will tend to cut down on your bills, mutis mutandis. But if you are in a town with a corporate water company who are intentionally cutting their investment in water services, and are calling on you to ‘save’ water so that they can make more profit, using potable water wisely would mean making excessive use of it to force the company to invest properly.

In any case, no water is wasted. It all returns in the cycle…

Al Miller
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 18, 2018 6:23 pm

Exact Dodgy, thank you for correctly pointing out that water is a through put and NOT consumed by domestic animals! This kind of tomfoolery by greens is exactly why I distrust them and media so much! Water is not destroyed when it is run through a tap or “used” on a farm, period!

Tom Halla
November 18, 2018 1:57 pm

AMPAG is a useful acronym. Most of the opposition to meat is from vegans, but they don’t actually get beyond their ideology to do any sort of economic or ecological rationale. It is framed as a matter of morality.
Perhaps one could get a vegan to protest rice farming, which produces considerable methane from the paddies.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 18, 2018 4:13 pm

As I understand it (I’m not a vegan), they must use vitamin supplements to offset what they don’t get from meat.
So, my question then is; where do these vitamins come from, and could we make enough to supply a world of vegans?

Graeme M
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
November 19, 2018 12:55 am

Greg, most nutrients are available in plants as well so vegans don’t need to supplement as much as you’d think. It just requires a little knowledge. The average person isn’t always on top of their nutrition either. As an example, although vegans should supplement B12, that can be the case for a not insubstantial proportion of the general population, though most don’t know it. Pretty much all vitamins and nutrients come from plants anyway.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Graeme M
November 19, 2018 11:17 am

In the case of B12, there are very few non-animal sources and not nearly enough to supply even just the vegans alive today. This is important to note because humans are dependent on B12, however we are one of the only animals that is unable to synthesize it in our body. I have known a number of vegans that got sick about a year after converting because of B12 deficiency. Now they sneak some meat once every week or two but don’t tell their vegan friends for fear of being ostracized. What they don’t realize is that most of them are doing the same thing since B12 supplements made from non-animal sources are quite expensive.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
November 19, 2018 6:36 am

Actually the question should be where do these vitamins come from and how do we block vegans from getting them? Make them ACTUALLY live on nothing but in season, locally grown crops and see how long they hold out.

Walter Sobchak
November 18, 2018 2:05 pm

When they peel my cold dead fingers off of my cheeseburger.

Clyde Spencer
November 18, 2018 2:14 pm

Something that the alarmists overlook is that cows and sheep are usually grazed on semi-arid land that is unsuitable for agriculture. Even if the ground were sufficiently fertile, the land would probably have to be irrigated. Whereas, cows and sheep will take themselves to water; it doesn’t have to be piped to them, unlike immobile plants.

November 18, 2018 2:21 pm

I know little of agriculture; but I do know when basic logic gets kicked into touch.

Biomass energy generation is considered as a neutral emission process. This however is nothing more than a legal definition for the purposes of control, with a dubious scientific basis.
However, if we were to accept this definition; then as cattle etc. consume biomass their emissions must also be considered neutral. The energy they generate being produced in the human gut with associated CO2 output.

The same cycle applies to vegans and it would be of interest to know whether these vegans fart more than meat eaters. Anecdotally I know what happens when I consume baked beans.
An excellent article which sadly will be read by few.

Lewis p Buckingham
Reply to  Alasdair
November 18, 2018 6:07 pm

So true. Grass fed cattle as well as grain fed 30 day fattened cattle eat carbohydrates of usually very poor quality. They are metabolised by microbial flora in the rumen where the fermentation vat process yields microbial protein from non protein nitrogen and delivers free fatty acids as a source of energy.
The whole lot ultimately breaks down to CO2 and Water and constituent elemental compounds when the body dies and decays or is eaten and the chain continues.
Very often in Australia the cattle use bore water which is unfit for any other use, releasing it for use on pasture and atmosphere.
Cattle also compete with CH4 producing white ants for the same cellulose in dry matter grasslands and scrub, arguably reducing the CH4 emissions from white ant infested areas which cover most of Australia.
Recent work in Timor Leste, the poorest per capita country on earth, has shown that the provision of one chook egg a day for children in primary school with a wholesome meal, provides them with the essential amino acids vitamins and essential fatty acids to grow learn and mature.
I personally have free range hens.
However any argument to shut down beef or poultry production needs to be looked at in the context of the human suffering it entails, particularly in the poor.

November 18, 2018 2:32 pm

Issues here start with water contamination via runoff byproducts of industrial meat growing that reduce oxygen and increase nitrogen in rivers and seas. These affect life in favour of algae which tend to bloom and affect life chains that would otherwise sequester carbon. This effectively causes water sequestration as countries divert millions of litres to growing these animals, who then in an obligate manner contaminate the water (those millions of litres just falling on fields) in such a manner that normal life cannot be sustained in their runoff paths.

Also, interesting about the carbon content of the soil but I figure that the tonnage of C locked in trees and tall crops is going to far outstrip the C in the top inches of soil that they grow over and the study does only look at the first rotation. Enough to get an idea of the first order change, but not further changes so it’s only partially useful.

And it’s weird that you’d lean so heavily on UK farming when it’s a tiny portion of the global industrial meat farming output. Fair enough, it’s an example of what we can do but actually when you look at the tonnage of slurry that’s generated it’s worth noting that even in the median cases of UK industrial meat farming it still isn’t great by any standards.

If meat farming or animal industry is to continue it will be best run under individual artisan-ship, rather than as co-operatives and certainly not as chains where companies own the animals and “growers”, not farmers, are used to raise these animals. In this way where the animal is grown locally, fed from local stocks, slaughtered or used locally then the carbon emissions from the industry are minimised.

However that still leaves an industry that uses at least 2x the water to produce protein Vs plants that are naturally high in protein. In the scenario I propose, perhaps most will have a traditionally medallion-size portion of meat every couple of weeks with the rest of the protein being provided by seeds and nuts. This reduces water use, carbon and methane production, fossil fuel requirements, and the margin for animal abuse.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Alexis
November 18, 2018 3:36 pm

Alexis, it appears you have based your beliefs on anti-corporate farming ideology, which tends to include “organic” advocates and their claims. Actual economics or ecological concerns do not enter into this marketing scheme, just labeling as “sustainable” and other nebulous glittering marketing points.

Reply to  Alexis
November 18, 2018 5:20 pm

It’s a lot harder for an “artisan” to grow crops than raise beef. Where I live it’s common to see houses with a few cattle in a field (some as small as an acre or two). The owner’s at work and the cows are keeping the grass mowed. At the end of the grow-out season a year’s worth of beef for the family in the freezer for very little labor involved.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Alexis
November 19, 2018 8:02 pm

You talk a lot about carbon in relation to eating beef.

Are you sure you know how to cook properly?

Jokes aside your argument is hard to even analyse because your terms are all over the shop. Stop typing carbon everywhere. CO2 is not only much more correct in context of your discussion, but it is less keystrokes. Carbon is NOT a greenhouse gas. Cattle do not directly produce carbon unless you set fire to them.

michael hart
November 18, 2018 3:19 pm

Astonishingly, Pimental included all of the rain that fell on the land on which the beef was reared, ignoring the fact that that rain would have fallen whether cattle were there or not.

Actually, it is not that astonishing at all, once you are familiar with the modus operandi of the environmentalist movement.

They routinely lie and deceive in such a manner. The further up the environmentalist pecking-chain they are, the bigger the lies they invent. People further down the environmentalist pecking-chain just tend to repeat what is handed-down from above. I didn’t comprehend most of the lies and deception I was being fed until I was a teenager.

Some decades later, I realized just how hard they work to always be inventing new lies and re-enforcing the old lies. Most people expect politicians to lie at least some of the time when trying to solicit your vote. And corporations often lie to obtain your money for their products, through advertising that may have only minimal legal oversight.

That environmentalists do both, outrageously, most of the time, seems not to have sunk in yet with the majority of adults, and those responsible for overseeing the activities of “charities”.

November 18, 2018 3:24 pm

Small cattle, 125 Kilo. The cattle here produce 204 Kilo of de-boned, fat striped meat. Local packaging company just recalled 99,260 pounds (45,023 Kilos) of hamburger, that is 50 tons of Angus hamburger trashed because people can’t cook meat properly.
I first thought they added the water used to grow the alfalfa , corn, wheat but even that doesn’t add up. All the rain that fell on the plain, LOL.

Ben Vorlich
November 18, 2018 3:36 pm

If a beef steer didn’t get rid of nearly 100% of the water it consumes in its life, 50 litres a day for 500 days it would weigh 2.5 tonnes. This would be added to the weight of retained solid matter used to produce muscle and bone. This clearly isn’t what happens and for cattle raised on grassland the water goes straight back knto the ground on the farm where it was raised sooner lr later. Most farmers I’ve ever met don’t like spending more than they have to so feed animals hay, straw and silage whereever possible and not expensive bought in feed.

November 18, 2018 3:37 pm

ctm, thanks for another interesting article. I approached the same question from a different direction in my post entitled Animal, Vegetable, or E. O. Wilson.

Best to all,


November 18, 2018 3:44 pm

I have been involved in farming and livestock for, with breaks to do GI stuff and work construction etc, my whole life. It long ago occurred to me that the world was just fine until these self proclaimed “climate scientists” showed up and started spewing politically based crap all over the place. If these “climate scientists” were conservative, pro-capitalist and anti-collectivists not a single person on the political left would listen to anything they have to say, and global media would hector them into silence constantly. Since they are, without fail, progressive, collectivist and anti-capitalist(except for stuffing their pockets with tax money at every opportunity) they are hailed as the Greatest Humans To Ever Live and followed blindly by millions of morons. These are the kinds of “people” who infested the Roman Senate and merrily brought the Visigoths, Vandals and Ostrogoths in to “fix” Romes problems. They want people to shutdown energy production, agriculture and manufacturing industries to “save” the planet. What a bunch of utterly contemptible morons. And people actually listen and believe them. We are so screwed.

Reply to  2hotel9
November 18, 2018 4:40 pm


Reply to  2hotel9
November 19, 2018 12:21 pm

+ 100

November 18, 2018 4:11 pm

AGW is built on the idea that external carbon dug up from under the ground where it had been sequestered for millions of years and injected into the atmosphere is a perturbation of the carbon cycle and climate system that could potentially cause catastrophic climate consequences. The extension of this principle to the consumption of beef and to cattle in general is inconsistent with this theory because the carbon emissions from cattle are an integral part of the carbon cycle itself and not a perturbation of the carbon cycle.

Joe Born
November 18, 2018 4:12 pm

“[I]n many cases it is the value of the extracted timber which drives such deforestation.”

Honest question: Does cutting trees for lumber add much CO2 to the atmosphere?

Sure, cutting down a forest does add CO2 if termites, fire, etc., consume it.

But if it’s used for 2 x 4’s, flooring, etc., how does that add much CO2?

Another way of asking the question: On a net basis, does a mature forest continue to sequester carbon? If not, and if the erstwhile forest is made into building material, might that not leave the CO2 concentration unaffected?’

Reply to  Joe Born
November 18, 2018 10:28 pm

My understanding is that mature forest is close to equilibrium. Cutting timber wastes some but as you say a lot will be stored as timber products. So probably a production forest will sequester more carbon than a protected forest. I imagine quick growing grasses used for graising would be even better and one of the best ways of absorbing co2. Cattle eat the grass which stops it decaying and releasing the co2 again. What is a cattlebeast anyway if not a large store of sequestered co2? But like treas, once cattle stop growing they cease to be net sequesterers.

November 18, 2018 4:22 pm

5 reasons to go vegan, apart from environmental:

– Reduce risk of the No. 1 killer – Heart Disease

– Reduce the risk of the No. 2 killer – Cancer

– Lose excess weight and keep it off.

– save money

– Protect Animals From Abuse and Neglect. Animals on modern factory farms are subjected to extreme confinement, mutilations without painkillers, and a merciless slaughter.

Reply to  Snape
November 18, 2018 5:10 pm

Reason 6: Make animals extinct!

Reply to  Snape
November 18, 2018 6:34 pm

Anybody who wants to go vegan, knock yourselves out. Heart disease and cancer won’t kill you since you’ll be dead of deficiency diseases first. Your sperm will be few and weak, and if a kid is conceived the chances of birth and developmental defects ensure that your genetic line will not be a long one.

But then, “survival of the fittest” is a THING.

More bacon for me!

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Snape
November 18, 2018 8:54 pm

A high carb vegan diet causes heart disease.

Hugh Mannity
Reply to  Bill In Oz
November 19, 2018 8:36 am

And diabetes.

And without B12 and D3 supplementation the beneficial effects of veganism on heart disease and cancer are cancelled out.

Reply to  Snape
November 19, 2018 4:50 am

not a shred of real proof that meats causes cancer or heart disease.
quite a bit of proof coming out that butter and animals fats arent a health issue at all, rather the damned statins are!

Reply to  Snape
November 19, 2018 7:36 am

Step 2, come up with 5 reasons that are actually true.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Snape
November 19, 2018 11:25 am

And one good reason to eat meat: without B12 and D3 you die within a few years.

November 18, 2018 4:26 pm

I really don’t ask this out of sarcasm but curiosity.
Taken to a logical conclusion this would mean, at the very least, the almost complete extinction of beef-producing cows I guess?

Under such circumstances this would result in beef becoming an extremely expensive commodity indeed.

Who on earth would get to eat the beautiful, delicious stuff with a quality pepper sauce then?

Reply to  Jones
November 18, 2018 5:09 pm

Yes, the natural progression would be for all food animals to become extinct. Vegans aren’t thinking this through.

I’m betting that food animals prefer to exist, even if they eventually get used for food. That’s what happens in nature, almost every creature eventually serves as food for other creatures. This is nature.

Julie near Chicago
Reply to  Jones
November 18, 2018 5:20 pm

But Jones, who on earth would want to eat the beautiful, delicious stuff with its deliciousness made unrecognizable to the palate because the taste-buds are all but moribund onaccounta the pepper — even in a “quality” pepper sauce? *g*

Reply to  Julie near Chicago
November 18, 2018 6:53 pm

A filet mignon without condiment? Or even a NY strip (for the lower orders)…

My God woman! Have you no class whatsoever?………..

It’s KFC for you from now on……

Tom Halla
Reply to  Jones
November 18, 2018 6:55 pm

Or horseradish? Just as long as one does not overcook it!

Reply to  Tom Halla
November 19, 2018 4:52 am

crispy grilled loin lamb chops full fat left on with a smear of wasabi

November 18, 2018 5:05 pm

Please join the organization ‘People For The Ethical Treatment of Plants’!

Just because plants experience time 1000 times slower than we do doesn’t mean it is ethical to eat them! They have feelings too!

Reply to  Greg
November 18, 2018 5:43 pm

Kauai has feral chickens and pigs. Feral cows could be interesting as well…..might help with Trump’s plan to keep the forest floor from getting overgrown.

My only supplement, BTW, is vitamin B12. One tablet is enough for 10 lifetimes.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Snape
November 19, 2018 11:30 am

That would be a huge tablet since adults need 2.6mcg per day. And almost all B12 supplements come from animal sources. So, if you take B12 supplements you are not a true vegan. If you don’t, then you are either sick, dead, or not a true vegan. You can’t cheat biology with wishful thinking.

Reply to  Paul Penrose
November 19, 2018 6:57 pm

Paul says,

“That would be a huge tablet since adults need 2.6mcg per day.”


Graeme M
Reply to  Greg
November 19, 2018 12:57 am

You know when someone hasn’t a clue when they wheel that one out Greg! Plants have feelings indeed. I did chuckle.

Reply to  Graeme M
November 19, 2018 5:01 am

Graeme M you need to go read up
the secret life of plants published late 60s? ear;ly 70s? was ridiculed as nutter central
hmm? i’m noticing a LOT of what they were laughed at for is now being proven to be correct
when a bug attacks one plant it released stress hormones/pheromones that alerst other to produce toxins to deter bugs.
what annoys me most is the original discoveries arent given credit for behind way ahead of their time.
what form sentience takes depends on the species.
dont think that only we ,and so called higher animals ,are alone in that.
first seed to sprout produces auxins that stop competition, thats a form of species area control performed by plants..thats why weeds have such a headstart often

November 18, 2018 5:18 pm

In order for a 350 kg beef (cattle) to gain an average of 200 grams/day on 100% roughage would need 6 kg of dry matter/day. This would create the equivalent of 19 grams of edible protein /day. The water needed to produce that amount of daily feed is equivalent to 1.22 cubic meters of water/day.
For every kg of weight added to a 350 kg beef cattle 6.2 cubic meters of water/kg weight gain is used (including feed & drinking).

Feed fattening for 350 kg beef is significantly
more water efficient. To achieve 1,000 gram average weight gain /day only 85% roughage can be fed. With the feed supplement included 7 kg/day of dry matter is needed. The edible protein yield would be 95 grams of protein/day. The water needed to produce that amount of feed is 2.3 cubic meters of water/day. In this case it only takes 2.35 cubic meters of water /kg of weight put on.

Once we get to the detail of cubic meters of water/kg EDIBLE protein the example 350 kg cattle uses the following: if would gain 200 gr/day uses 64.7 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein, if would gain 500 gr/day uses
34 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein, if would gain 1,000 gr/day uses 24.7 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein & if would gain 1,500 gr/day uses 24.5 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein.

Reply to  gringojay
November 18, 2018 6:31 pm

Milk data:
To get 5 Kg/day milk when roughage comprises 95% of the feed dry matter base the equivalent of 1,930 liters of water/day is taken in with that feed. For this amount of milk/day 386 liters of water are required per kg milk.

To get 10 kg milk /day where roughage is 90% of the dry matter base the water intake via feed is 2,190 liters/day. For this amount of milk/day 219 of water are required per kg milk.

In terms of EDIBLE protein 5 kg/day of milk with 95% dry matter from roughage requires
11.4 cubic meters of water per kg edible protein. Feeding 90% dry matter from roughage requires 6.4 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein. And to get 20 kg/day milk feed 75% dry matter from roughage it takes 6.6 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein (uses 226 liter water/kg milk). However, to get 40 kg milk/day feeding 50% dry matter from roughage the water intake via feed/day jumps to 12,390 liters of water/day & 9.1 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein is required (uses 320 liters water/kg milk).

Reply to  gringojay
November 18, 2018 7:38 pm

Emissions data (Note: methane cipher is by nature an estimate, since depends on diet):

350 kg beef cattle gaining 500 gr/day emits 2.3 gr. nitrogen / kg protein & 3.5 gr methane/ kg protein (170 gr/d methane). The same weight cattle gaining 1,000 gr/day emits1.3 gr. nitrogen/kg protein & 1.7 gr. Methane/kg protein (175 gr./day methane). And the same weight cattle gaining 1,500 gr/day emits 1 gr. nitrogen/kg protein & 1.2 gr. methane/kg protein (180 gr/day methane).

A 650 kg dairy cow producing 10 kg/day of milk emits 0.65 gr nitrogen/kg protein & 1 gr.methane/kg protein (310 gr methane/day). The same size cow producing 20 kg of milk/day emits 0.44 gr nitrogen/kg protein & 0.6 gr methane/kg protein (380 gr methane/day). And cow producing 40 kg milk/day emits 0.24 nitrogen/kg protein & 0.4 gr methane/kg protein (520 gr/day methane).

Since bovine manure & urine are of interest here are comparative % of nitrogen taken in that is excreted. First for the 350 kg beef cattle: 90% nitrogen if gaining 500 gr/d., 84% if gaining 1,000 gr/d., & 80% if gaining 1,500 gr/day. Next for 650 kg dairy cow: 75% if yielding 10 kg milk/d., 70% if yielding 20 kg milk/d., & 65% if yielding 40 kg milk/day.

For milk goat fans here’s similar data, but when comparing to dairy cows adjust your calculations for weight disparity.

A 60 kg dairy goat yielding 2 kg milk/day emits 0.5 gr nitrogen/kg protein & 0.8 gr methane per kg/protein (50 gr methane/day); while excreting 75% of nitrogen taken in. The same size dairy goat yielding 5 kg milk/day emits 0.4 gr nitrogen/ kg protein & 0.4 gr. methane/kg potein (60 gr methane/.); while excreting 65% of nitrogen taken in.

I’ll add dairy goat water footprint here if anyone wants to compare data to cows’ data in comment posted prior to this. Note: averages used since different goat breeds produce varied % fat & protein content milk; plus herders supply different diets.

A 60 kg dairy goat giving 0.5 kg milk/d. yields 17 gr edible protein/d., using 0.2 cubic meters water for it’s feed & 11.8 cubic meters water/kg edible protein. The same size goat giving 1 kg milk/d. yields 34 gr edible protein/d., using 0.43 cubic meters water/d. for it’s feed & 12.6 cubic meters water/kg edible protein. In the case where 2 kg milk/day is produced yield is 68 gr edible protein/d., using 0.75 cubic meters water for the feed & 11 cubic meters of water/ kg edible protein. Lastly, for same 60 kg dairy goat producing 5 kg milk/day, using 1.57 cubic meters water for it’s feed requires 9.3 cubic meters of water/kg edible protein.

Reply to  gringojay
November 19, 2018 1:04 am

Gringo jay ,
This is nonsense that you spout ,Come to New Zealand and see sheep and cattle on green hills that you would struggle to walk on .
The cubic meters of rain falls out of the sky and the grass grows and the sheep and cattle breed and grow as they eat the grass or as you say roughage .
Take the livestock off the hills and the grass still grows and then decays and rots and the cubic meters of rain still falls out of the sky and no high quality meat and wool is produced and the population starves.
We do not use the water up ,it falls on the land and refreshes the pasture and a lot runs off into streams and rivers back to the sea where it evaporated from and so the cycle continues .
Click on to the New Zealand study on food production per hectare near the end of this article. New Zealand dairy farming can fully feed up to 70 people per hectare with adequate protein and in many areas there is no irrigation , only natural rain .
Go back and read this article and take off your blinkers and try to understand that all this tripe that you have quoted here is absolute propaganda that has been trotted out for the last 20 years .
If you are concerned about water use why don’t you protest about flushing toilets ,good water growing nothing and it has to be pumped and purified then dumped , or washing your car or having a shower .
Broad acre farming and vegetable production are necessary to feed the worlds population but they are not without problems of soil loss, lack of carbon sequestration and the high level of artificial nitrogen use .
This article points out that grassland farming with livestock does not have these problems and that this cubic meters of water per kilogram of food is a smoke screen , as is the methane emissions produced by livestock .

Reply to  Gwan
November 19, 2018 2:07 am

Hi Gwan, -You have jumped to conclusions on several fronts.

Apparently you assumed that I am personally upset by factors such as water usage and methane; but in truth I am not. I try to provide data when comment for purposes of orientation so the parameters of a thread can be discussed with some reference points.

I take exception to your dismisal of data as 20 year old propaganda. If you will take the time to find the souce cited (about 1 hour before your reply hete) you will see it is from a recent 2018 journal issue & it’s authors are in the institutional discipline of Animal Nutrition & Animal Science. They aren’t advocating against meat & detail livestock other than cattle too.

Furthermore, although your NewZealand livestock conditions are admirable they are not anything like my semi-arid tropical grazing conditions . Incidently yes, I do have cattle (I am a vegetarian by personal design, yet do sell steers for meat) & I can only dream of bountious NZ pasture.

Lastly, I refer you to my later comments further below this grouping. I point out that cattle rumen microbes create best weight gain when get 26.13(+/-1.3) gr. nitrogen per 1000 gr. matter (cited source is given). The productivity you extol for NZ rain fed grass is, I presume, partly due to the nitrogen content of that pasture. My grass is not very nitrogen rich & for decent milk productivity must give supplemental feed.

Louis Hunt
Reply to  gringojay
November 19, 2018 1:32 am

Grasses and other vegetation are going to produce GHG emissions whether they are digested in the stomach of a cow or left in the field to be decomposed by bacteria or burned by wild fires. Just because cow stomachs can breakdown the vegetation faster than nature doesn’t mean more emissions are produced than if the vegetation was left to decompose more slowly. And if fields of hay or grain are not planted, it doesn’t mean grass, weeds, or some other plants won’t spring up on the unused land and decompose when they die or burn. If we killed off all the cattle and stopped eating meat tomorrow, we would likely see very little difference in the total amount of emissions released over the course of a year. Bacteria will continue to decompose plants whether there are animals to eat them or not.

Mark Hansford
Reply to  Louis Hunt
November 19, 2018 1:35 pm

A field of grass whether it goes on to produce a grain/hay crop or is fed directly to cattle is, most years in temperate regions, in balance. Even when we add fertiliser (horrendously innefficient use of fossil fuels – see the haber bosch process for nitrate production) in order to enhance yield, water is seldom added over and above rainfall. Both animals and the crops retain very little of the water they consume. So any of the above argument as far as cattle or grain / grass production is concerned is totally irrelevant as it is all returned to the cycle.

Vegetable crops however do regularly need added water to produce a crop and large amounts of artificial fertiliser to produce the quantities needed by modern human populations. However all of this water also returns to the water cycle ultimately so again irrelevant to the argument.

the only problems arise when working against the natural water cycle or nature. So irrigating areas of desert (California again) is at present cost efficient but hugely wasteful of resource. Adding artificial nitrogen to crops is also currently cost efficient but again takes huge amounts of resource. this over use or abuse of nature is what is damaging and wasting natural resource.

As usual what is important is maintaining a balance as omnivores (yes we are omnivores – most efficiently using both sources of protein not one or the other). Eating animal protein and plant protein is what our digestive system has evolved to work most efficiently with. Thankfully huge amounts of vegetation inedible to humans and food waste is consumed by animals and converted into useful edible protein, and manure at the same time. Plants convert unbelievably huge amounts of light energy combined with numerous sources of nitrogen into solid fuel either as edible hydrocarbons or fossil fuels / biofuels as well as providing the necessary nutrition/proteins for us omnivores to thrive on. Upsetting the balance by eliminating one or the other would be a massive mistake, in my opinion, as over production of either is destructive

Bill In Oz
Reply to  gringojay
November 18, 2018 9:03 pm

Lots of junk info there gringo !
And figures produced from your veganistic hat maybe ?
Plus you assume that all meat is raised by feed lots.
maybe that’s all you ‘know’ about.
But it’s simply not true for most livestock production !
But good for confusing the less knowledgeable.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
November 18, 2018 11:55 pm

Hi Bill in Oz, – You really know nothing of the agro-industrial hats I have worn over time; nor of the ongoing years of cattle management on my land. I trust you will read what directly follows & are not just making “drive by” shots.

As for all this data, it actually comes from the journal “Archives of Animal Breeding”, Vol.62, pages 17-36. I just didn’t get the chance to cite my source until completed
several chores & recharged this tablet.

You can get less confused by searching out https:/ After reviewing the work you can contact those German authors at an Institute of Animal Nutrition and an Institute of Animal Science & discuss what is “true for most livestock production.”

By the way, there are formulas for determining how much water different livestock need reproduced from other researchers in this report. They’re too long to type out
on my tablet, but I thought to mention them as a resource.

If anyone is unable to access the free full text on-line via DOI cited please say so & I will try to link better. By the way, authors give similar data as highlighted for a lot of other kinds of “MEAT”, which the Original Post was exploring.

Reply to  gringojay
November 19, 2018 3:55 pm

Hi Gringojay ,
I am quite firm on my assertion that these figures that you quote are nothing but propaganda .I have looked at my figures on my farm in the Waikato district of the North Island of New Zealand .
My farm is just over 200 hectares and we average around 1000 millimeters of rain per year but it can be quite variable from 800 mills to 1600 mills ,but in an average season we would receive over 2 million cubic meters of water from the sky.
We are only allowed to extract 36500 cubes per year so the other 1.963.500 cubic meter that falls on the farm and runs off or soaks through the soil goes elsewhere down stream or into the aquifer .
There is 4.5 hectares in plantation forestry and 5.5 hectares in native forest .
We produce over 50 tonne of milk protein , 50,000kgs in 1,250,000 liters of milk which is around 25 liters of liquid milk for every kg of milk protein at 4%.
We pump water from an aquifer at 70 to 100 cubic meters a day to run the farm and three houses and the livestock would drink on average 35 to 38 cubes a day and another 40 cubes is used for milk cooling and washing milking machines and yards which is held in a 2600 cubic meter concrete pond and pumped onto the land when required in the drier periods .
If we extract 100 cubes a day of water that equates to 36500 cubes annually divided by 50000 kgs of protein equals 730 liters of water for each kg of milk protein not 6 to 10 cubes as quoted by your study .
The rain is still free but I don’t know for how long with this green wave that is washing over western civilization .
We get even more stupidity when we look at irrigation in the East coast of the South Island ,The greens quote these same figures and if the water is not stored as the snow melts it only irrigates the ocean .
As was quoted in the article water dose not get used up . It is not destroyed .it might become contaminated but the rain always brings more and I am sure that the same molecules are recycled many times

Reply to  Gwan
November 19, 2018 5:36 pm

Hi Gwan, -Your calculation is based on the cubic meters of water that you extract. The cited research is including the water that grew the cow’s feed, as well as water the cow drink & some ancillary water related to hygenic practises. Maybe you’d enjoy reading the actual report & see the details I didn’t provide before deciding their data is propaganda.

Where I farm, semi-arid tropics, we are fortunate if get a good rainy season for the pasture & many ranchers have to buy water to deliver to cattle. A substantial number of milk gets pre-sold for loans.

Basically the conversation in my hamlet is sooner or later about rain, or how dry the fields are. Nobody is very animated over food crops – tubers like yucca & pidgeon peas grow well enough.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
November 19, 2018 6:48 am

Yea, after went through his first comment I just hit the little trashcan icon when I see his name.

Reply to  2hotel9
November 19, 2018 7:37 am

Hi 2hotel9 – Discourse is not necessary for going through life.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 5:09 am

Yea, you just keep spewing idiocy, that is proof you don’t need “discourse” to toddle through life.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 9:35 am

hi 2hotel9- Eloquence is inhibited by the amygdala unfortunately, don’t feel bad about it.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 9:49 am

Ahhh, ain’t you cute?!?! Mommy told you to use the thesaurus to spice up your envirotard blather.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 10:11 am

Hi 2hotel9,- Glad to hear from you, those tears will help my cow pasture grow.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 10:31 am

Don’t cry, you are only stupid because you choose to be.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 10:43 am

Hi 2hotel9, – MENSA probably won’t be calling on you to join.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 10:50 am

Turned them down, far too slow and uptight to hang around for long. Much like you.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 11:00 am

Hi 2hotel9, – Nice to know you can suit up for the next high school football game without distraction.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 11:03 am

This is the best you got? No wonder you cut&paste enviroweenie agitprop, its all you can do. How sad.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 11:19 am

Hi 2hotel9, -What is your calculation of the water involved in creating any type of animal’s meat? The original post dismissed Pimentel’s 2004 water footprints, so I merely cited alterntive 2014 data for reference.

Reply to  gringojay
November 21, 2018 8:31 am

As much as I have to put in the water trough each day, cupcake. Now why don’t you post some more cut&paste blahblah for everyone to laugh at.

Reply to  gringojay
November 20, 2018 11:37 am

@ 2hotel9, – Cited study lead author, Gerhard Flachowsky, has published over 30 technical reports since 2005. For reference, one with a brief enough title for me to type out is titled “Effects of exogenous fibrolytic enzymes on ruminal fermentation and nutrient digestion in a dairy cow”.

Given the serious nature of his body of work I think he would be surprised to
see himself characterized as an “envirotard”, or for that matter an “envirweenie” by anyone.

Reply to  gringojay
November 21, 2018 8:33 am

How many head of cattle does he run? 0? Got it.

Reply to  gringojay
November 22, 2018 7:58 am

Welcome back 2hotel9, – Do you need more time to calculate how much water it took to grow the feed for any beef cattle you wish & what that animal needs to drink in order to make a kilogram of edible protein?

If you don’t feel up to the challenge then you can enlighten us with regards to any other meat. The cited authors were able to do that for a considerable
variety of meat it seems, so maybe it would be possible for you too.

Reply to  gringojay
November 22, 2018 12:29 pm

I know how to raise cattle, chickens, pigs, horses, even sheep and goats, while clearly you don’t. What a sad, pathetic little life you lead. Now I am off to play pool with friends after eating a wonderful meal, much of which I produced myself. Please feel free to continue to reside in mommy’s basement whilst screeching “Hotpockets, mom!!!”, I will continue to laugh at you.

Reply to  gringojay
November 22, 2018 5:29 pm

Hola 2hotel9, – Actually I do raise cows, for milk & steers sold for meat, in semi-arid conditions. You have made other unsubstantiated comments; pathetically puerile included.

You seem to have internalized that staying in a hotel one night should make you expert on everything. Now that I have familiarized myself with your case I am certain you should ask for a refund.

Reply to  gringojay
November 24, 2018 10:07 am

I seem to have brought your cut&pasting of environtardery to a screeching halt. My work is done here! Now you can get back to playing harvest moon while munching your hotpockets.

Reply to  gringojay
November 25, 2018 7:51 am

Ahoy 2hotel9, It seems you have ventured into deeper water than you know how to get out of. Your best option at this point is to try & not take more water aboard by stop being a mouth breather.

Reply to  gringojay
November 25, 2018 1:33 pm

You really got your panties in a twist, ought to get your mom to help you with that. Let me help you with at least one of the many issues you are suffering from, humans are not causing climate to change, neither can humans stop it from changing. No, don’t try to pay me! That one is free, now you can let go of all that anxiety and fear and move on with your life. Do something useful, Chick-Fil-A is hiring. Good luck.

Reply to  gringojay
November 25, 2018 5:27 pm

Pitiful 2hotel9, – You need to go get new words off social media to sling at me since your repetoire is exhausted. If you had any reading comprehension you would have processed comments of mine elsewhere stating that I am not personally alarmed/worried/obsessing about CO2 levels, methane &/or temperature.

I am interested in scientific research of many things & prefer to discuss specifics when group-think is occuring. None of the data that I posted on this thread has been addressed by you chewing your cud all these days.

Reply to  gringojay
November 26, 2018 5:53 am

Really, cut&paste group is all you posted, try again. Tell yourself all the lies you want, you may even convince you some day.

Reply to  gringojay
November 26, 2018 8:33 am

1+1ho-tel, – Repitition of echoes between your ears can not replace logical thinking for you. You can always try writing your cries for help in all capital letters.

Reply to  gringojay
November 27, 2018 5:02 am

Yes, I get it, all you do is echo the leftarded environazi group think crap, you don’t have to keep proving it.

Reply to  gringojay
November 27, 2018 8:11 am

1hotel9, – You are demoted by 1 for consitantly being nothing more than an uninformed typist.

Reply to  gringojay
November 27, 2018 8:13 am

I love making leftist posers like you cry, it is quite entertaining while I wait for docs to download and print.

Reply to  gringojay
November 27, 2018 11:01 pm

1hotel9, – The reality is it’s your petard, so go ahead & keep hoisting yourself up on it.

Reply to  gringojay
November 28, 2018 5:10 am

Ahh, wipe those tears away! Mommie will bring you a hotpocket any minute now.

Reply to  gringojay
November 28, 2018 9:46 am

1hotel, – Your thought process is a cul-de-sac you prepared for yourself.

Reply to  gringojay
November 29, 2018 6:48 am

Back to the thesaurus, eh? Not a single, original thought in your vastly echoing empty skull. How sad. Not! Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Pamela Gray
November 18, 2018 5:49 pm

My definition of sustainable meat production:
1. Put out some leafs of alfalfa bails maybe once a week near a public lands meadow you have to walk to. Add a salt lick and a camouflaged viewing area.
2. Take notes on the bucks who visit and be sure to put in for your tag. If you get a tag continue to #3.
3. Stop feeding a few weeks before hunting season and remove salt lick. Camp out under the stars the night before opening day and get ready at the crack of pre-dawn.
4. Shoot desired buck in season. Process buck and eat.
5. When roads clear enough to get to the meadow again, repeat from #1, choosing another meadow when necessary.
6. Check with local hunting regulations right up till opening day because they can sneak up on you and change the rules at any time.
7. Alternative: Learn how to bow hunt. Season is earlier and you don’t need to put in for a controlled hunt.

Advantage: No need for poop management or pasture.

Mick Garcia
November 18, 2018 6:57 pm

November 18, 2018 8:43 pm

I found this article to be so inspirational that I went out and bought a Wendy’s triple burger. Not kidding.

Mrs. H.R. liked it too. (Her triple burger. She didn’t read the article.)

Saving the planet is delicious. Who knew?

Leo Smith
November 18, 2018 8:49 pm

All vegans should be sent o Lapland to grow veggy on the tundra.

The Lapps can then show them how to herd reindeer – the only vegans in the place!

November 18, 2018 11:24 pm

Here’s one of my favorite smoothie recipes (feel free to improvise):

16 oz. water
A big handful of kale or spinach
A few walnuts
One teaspoon chia or flaxseeds
One banana
One cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Blend thoroughly and enjoy!

Pamela Gray
Reply to  Snape
November 19, 2018 6:17 am

Lol! Yuck. It sounds nasty and would likely leave your teeth spotted with grainy bits.

November 19, 2018 12:08 am

Archives of Animal Breeding, Vol. 61, pg 17-36 (a 2018 publication) is the source of partial data I detailed above. The German authors are from an Institute of Animal Nutrition & an Institute of Animal Science.

In addition to bovine data there is data for pigs, sheep, horses & poultry. There’s even a section with formulas to calculate water for assorted livestock.Search free full English text on-line via https:/

Reply to  gringojay
November 19, 2018 1:09 am

Incidently, for cattle raised on grass their productivity efficiency, in terms of weight gain, depends on the nitrogen content of what they ingest, not just access to pasture. This factor of nitrogen content is why ( in the first comparison data in my earlier posted comments above) feeding 100% dry matter from roughage takes 6 kg of dry matter for example 350 kg cattle to fatten up 200 grams/day, while that same weight 350 kg bovine can gain 1,000 gr/d on 7 kg dry matter when roughage is only 85% of the feed.

Cattle rumen microbes create best weight gain when they are getting 26.13 (+/-1.3) grams nitrogen for every 1,000 grams of dry matter. As per “Estimated ruminsl nitrogen-to-energy balance with in situ disappearance data”)

Lewis p Buckingham
Reply to  gringojay
November 19, 2018 1:38 pm

Nitrogen for cattle comes from legumes such as clover and the addition in some farms of non protein nitrogen such as urea.
Cattle then can turn material we do not eat into nutritional food.
Our dentition is omnivorous. There is a place for both meat and veges/grain in our diet. We evolved that way.
Wiping out cattle and chooks won’t save the planet. It will make a lot of people very sick.

Reply to  Lewis p Buckingham
November 20, 2018 10:00 am

Hi L.p’B. – I don’t eat meat, but never would support restricting meat production.
Although I don’t think my non-omnivorous diet has made me very sick.

Maybe I should point out that I posted exerpted data because original post claimed Pimentels, et al’s 2004 data on water foot-print for meat was flawed.
Since article never suggested alternative water:meat rates I provided quite recent data (2014), in order to have a reference for anyone interested.

I would like to see any WUWT commentator’s calculations for their parameters of water involved in any kind of meat production; not just what water the animal gets, but what water is involved in it’s feed production. Personally, I am not capable of that & have not attempted to independantly verify the cited data methodology to confirm their extensive array of water “foot-prints”.

Graeme M
November 19, 2018 1:02 am

Sustainable meat is one thing, what is really happening with meat and dairy isn’t sustainable and most definitely is not natural. Disregarding the vegan ethical argument (which has considerable merit, let’s face it), we really need to do something about the impacts of industrial scale animal agriculture. There is no shortage of evidence for that and this article is a rather shallow effort at dismissing that evidence, especially given it focuses on the UK context.

Reply to  Graeme M
November 19, 2018 2:35 am

Ask the ancient Babylonians how sustainable their purely organic ag techniques were for The Fertile Crescent. Dan’l Boone was an organic farmer, too. I wonder why he found such a need to keep moving west?

Reply to  guidoLaMoto
November 19, 2018 8:46 am

Daniel Boone was a hunter who stated it was his “… business in life.” He actually still hunted and slept rough when into his late 60s age despite some apparent body aches (presumably arthritis). He did do some trapping of game & probably safe to sugest he picked some edible wild greens occassionally. Then too, lore would have given him knowledge of roots & barks to boil up for remedies to try. Not sure if he regularly took any edible products sourced from anybody’s crops along on his outings.

November 19, 2018 4:58 am

Holy mackerel!
Insect Burgers have arrived in Germany. A large chain REWE carrries them.

Imagine that, no antibiotics! Wow!

There is something fishy about this.

Peta of Newark
November 19, 2018 4:59 am

And here we have AGAIN

Another fight down at the social club involving statistics, Angels on Pins and Emporial Fashion statements.
As a small aside, if forests and grasslands produce stuff that always rots and decomposes, I have 2 questions for you:
1. Where did all the oil, coal and gas come from
2. Why did a guy name of John Deere feel the need to develop a plough made of steel – nothing else was strong enough to get through the densely matted organic material that lay under the prairies (now= corn-belt). A landscape chock full of organic material that had been ‘managed’ by buffalo for millennia

I find myself in deep empathy with the 50% of the *entire* human population who are completely and totally fed up with it all and want a stop.
They have it within their power to do so and started flexing that muscle some little while ago.
Oddly enough I think it was in France, I recall even some decades ago the French Government was in alarm at the declining birth rate and launched financial incentives for French People to make more of themselves. Literally.

And your clue:
If you want to start a war, if you want 100’s of thousands of *really* angry people out on the streets protesting (compare to the poorly attended Lonely Hearts Club organised in London), you will take, or attempt to take, butter out of a Frenchman’s diet.

We’re told that cows need x amount of nitrogen.
From experience I know that if you apply as much nitrogen (haha fertiliser) to a cow pasture as you do to a wheat field, you will almost certainly kill your cows.
We’re told protein protein protein. Plants make protein.
What are are Lewy Bodies?
Why did they become a problem since the time of Ancell Keys, or specifically, Eisenhower’s heart attack.
Are you REALLY saying that a chain smoking middle aged man in THE highest stress job EVER, had his heart attack because he ate too much fat.
Heart attacks previously being a minor medical anomaly – because they happened so rarely otherwise and no-one studied them

Back to the 50% population, who or what are they? Remind yourself of why the Frenchman might have a riot
Look again at this:
comment image

What happens to the fat?

There is/was a story about a pet-food factory here in the UK, in the time after the 2nd war and after when rationing was lifted.
It was a big factory producing pet food and had its own canteen for the workers to have their lunch.
So, what was on the menu?

Pasta? Lentils? Cabbages? Bread?

Nope. The folks in the canteen ate the exact same stuff they had been putting into pet-food cans.
They looked forward to it, they relished and thrived on it and not least, because the knew *exactly* what it was made of.
Fat. Saturated fat of animal origin.

And again why this we see here is Total Junk Science in another misguided bar-room brawl.
Animals are NOT fed on grains so as to make protein.

Exactly as what happens to people when the eat carbohydrate, so happens to the cows.
They lay down body fat. They convert sugar to fat. This is what dairy cows do.
This is what the ‘finishing’ process is in beef feed-lots. The wholesale production of fat.

So we see what drives me and ALL THE GIRLS ON THIS PLANET to absolute distraction, is that the bar-room brawlers don’t realise that and actually throw away that most precious stuff.
(Frenchmen know better. Also folks from Poland, visit any one of their delicatessens to find out. English speakers not so)

Is truly is stratospheric insanity that even Monty Python couldn’t have dreamed up and the world’s fat processors (the girls) have had enough of this Utterly Insane & Unreasonable Behaviour by the boys.

No mater what question, the answer is:
no. no more. sorry. that’s it. You stop this or we will.
and they are doing
Good luck to them, not like they’ll need it.

And what do the boys do.
legalise cannabis as a vent for their inevitable frustration
Only to find, as they have in Canadia, their Government is now so inept it cannot even organise a p1ss up in a brewery and queues and queues of brain dead and zombified lentil eaters build up outside dope emporiums.

No better in the UK, haven’t had proper Government since Winston Churchill.
Maggie Thatcher was a bright spark but, as we saw, the self-seeking Zombies pulled her down, the seld seeking hypocrites absolutely epitomised by Tony Blair and his fugly wife

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 19, 2018 8:27 am

Hi Peta o’N. – I think you know the following, but will point it out as a distinction in case any readers are extrapolating concepts to ruminants.

Ruminants take up fatty acids (not carbohydrate derived “sugars”) that their symbiotic microbes synthesize. The microbial consortia do best with a certain % of nitrogen in their feed substrate; thus fattening up cattle is enhanced when nitrogen sources (ex: grain) are ingested.

I have to buy feed supplements with some nitrogen component to get good milk yield & to get enough weight on steers to make them profitable to sell. Many ranchers in my semi-arid area are also forced to transport water to their cattle; fortunately I’ve potable water wells.

November 19, 2018 5:08 am

I have never seen happier cows anywhere than a nearby fully automated stable. A milking robot, a large waterbed and back scratcher, with feed always ready. I kid you not. This is necessary in winter at 20 below.
AFAIK this farmer considers it organic, with a nearby biomas storage (biodiesel).

November 19, 2018 5:14 am

Chickens eat a bit over 4 kg compound feed to put 3 kg body mass in 42 days. They drink around 9 litres of water in the same period. Very efficient.

Reply to  Figaro
November 19, 2018 7:41 am

Cows taste better.

November 19, 2018 6:34 am

Cornell University’s nutrition dept. isn’t exactly covering itself in intellectual honesty these days.

Rud Istvan
November 19, 2018 6:34 am

I wrote about this extensively in the water and food chapters of ebook Gaia’s Limits. Pimental is not the only one providing grossly misleading figures.
Meat is by itself itself a complex subject, because animals have different feed/meat conversion efficiencies. Poultry conversion yield is higher than pork higher than beef, for example. But that is misleading in terms of human food resources because poultry and pork consume grain that could be eaten by humans, while beef consumes grass (humans cannot eat grass) on rangelands too dry or too steep to grow crops. The chapter illustrated this with a herd of very contented Swiss dairy cows high in the Alps in July, from a trip we took to meet with leading energy storage materials experts at the Swiss national lab in 2008.

November 19, 2018 6:36 am

so what happens to the water these cows drink? what happens to the grain they eat? these things get lost forever?

John B
Reply to  billtoo
November 19, 2018 6:46 am

No. They build/repair the cells in the Humans who eat the meat. Ultimately of course when these cells are broken down and the components excreted or that Human dies and decays, the atoms will be returned to the Universe whence they came to make more grain and water or wood or cows or Humans… or whatever.

John B
November 19, 2018 6:41 am

In Europe, cattle are raised most of the year on land that is not fit for growing crops, and so are sheep. Their drinking water is often extracted from rivers, streams or lakes or rainwater collection.

Swapping beef/sheep meat for plant matter would require much greater land use for farming, therefore.

Mass for mass, animal flesh produces far more nutrition than vegetable matter and has all the amino-acids required for Human nutrition. It would be necessary to eat a large quantity and varied plant material to match what meat provides… cows do this for us and concentrate it, so we do not have to.

Herbivores spend two thirds of the day eating because vegetable matter provides limited nutrition so must be consumed in quantity. Eating meat means we don’t have to spend most of the day eating, and the rest sitting on the lavatory.

Reply to  John B
November 20, 2018 12:43 pm

John B
“Herbivores spend two thirds of the day eating because vegetable matter provides limited nutrition so must be consumed in quantity. Eating meat means we don’t have to spend most of the day eating, and the rest sitting on the lavatory.”

Specifically, veggies tend to be high in water and fiber – you can eat a lot and not get fat, which for most of us (especially in America), is a BENEFIT rather than a problem.

The nutritional value is outstanding. Here’s a look at spinach, for example, a leafy green that’s great in smoothies:

“Protein accounts for 30% of its calories and it contains all the essential amino acids. A 1-cup (30-gram) serving provides 1 gram of protein and 181% of the RDI for vitamin K (16).

It also contains high amounts of folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C (16).

Besides its high protein content, spinach contains plant compounds that can increase antioxidant defense and reduce inflammation (17).

In one study, 20 athletes who took spinach supplements for 14 days experienced reduced oxidative stress and less muscle damage (18).

Another study gave nitrate-rich spinach to healthy participants and measured its effects on their levels of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule normally used in the body to widen the blood vessels.

The study also measured endothelial function and blood pressure. Nitrate-rich spinach was found to increase nitric oxide, improve endothelial function and lower blood pressure, all of which can improve heart health (19).

Lastly, regularly consuming spinach has been linked to as much as a 44% lower risk of breast cancer (20).”


A note to someone upthread: I didn’t mean to imply that eating meat causes cancer or heart disease – obesity is the underlying culprit.

I meant that by eating lots of fruits and vegetables you can reduce those risks……and the risk of becoming obese. The research is overwhelming.

Reply to  Snape
November 22, 2018 4:08 am

Actually, plant sourced foods contain sugars & starch which recruit insulin which in turn up-regulates lipogenesis while inhibiting lipolysis to a much greater extent than meat sourced food, ie– carbs, not fat in the diet makes you fat.

November 19, 2018 7:12 am

“Another anti-meat statistic is some variation on the claim that it takes 20kg of grain to produce a kilo of beef.”

Aside from the sillyness of that ratio, it should be noted, that the types of grains used as animal feed are not suitable for human consumption without extensive processing. Cows generally eat things that humans are incapable of digesting directly.

November 19, 2018 7:59 am
Cowboy Steve
November 19, 2018 3:55 pm

From a woman who worked as nursing supervisor in Washington state I learned that older people exhibiting signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s are tested for amino acid levels and, frequently, put on protein supplements as an initial treatment. The human brain requires high quantities of protein to function properly. Our lords and masters have pushed a low protein diet on the masses; whether Egyptian slaves building the Pyramids, medieval serfs poaching game or modern Progressives being indoctrinated with radical environmentalism. The less protein the lower the brain function!

Gary Pearse
November 19, 2018 8:13 pm

The grass the cows eat recover in weeks by taking the CO2 back out of the atmosphere! The hardwoods cut, chipped and shipped from the Carolinas to Drax Power in UK to be inefficiently burned to save 5he planet take 80yrs to recover. What kind of accounting is that?

November 20, 2018 5:40 am

I’m always a little confused by these articles, which act like there is no alternative between eating beef and going completely vegan. What about poultry? Fish? I eat more of those than any other sort of meat.

At any rate it is healthier tolet cows naturally graze, there is apparently a an e coli issue that comes from feeding them grain and corn, although that makes them fatter and is why ranchers are encouraged to do it.

November 20, 2018 7:11 pm

Me, I’m a total vego. But to save time eating I use vegetable concentrates. They come in tasteful flavours and easily adapted to many dishes, nominally beef, pork and chicken flavours, with a few other fancy types available if the purse permits.

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