People want to know how much of an impact going vegan can actually have on the planet. What sounds like a simple question … “How many animals do you save by not eating meat?” … is actually fiendishly complex! We can only really work on averages …
How Many Animals Do You Save By Not Eating Meat?Living in the USA, you would save approximately 527 animal lives every year by not eating meat (including fish). This is based on some very rough, “back of the beer mat” calculations so is by no means the gospel truth. More of a guide …
Watch: “Eating Our Way To Extinction” – Narrated by Kate Winslet
( an eye-opening, full-length feature documentary )
In order to answer this question there are many variables you can focus on to arrive at some sort of realistic number. How best to break it down?
It’s not particularly helpful going with the average number across the entire globe, although it would be a valid starting point, with nothing else to go on.
That number is relatively easy to calculate. Take the human population of the planet and the number of animals we consume annually. Deduct the number of vegans from the population figure before dividing animals by population.
Population of the planet: 7.98 billion (according to worldometers.info)
Number of vegans: 8 million (based on 1% of population)
Animal deaths for consumption: 2 trillion+ (including fish)
So, every year, if we approximate …
The number of animals saved per person by not eating meat = 250.
That’s pretty impressive in itself but regional variations are going to be massive.
( I didn’t deduct the number of vegans because it makes almost no difference, depressingly enough! )
Where You Live Is Important
So we have our average figure and this is quite useful as a starting point. But where you live is going to have a big effect on the number of animals you would save by not eating meat.
Those of us lucky enough to live in the “Western World” eat the most meat. Developing countries are catching up fast however!
The picture is further complicated by dietary patterns. Fish make up the vast majority of animals killed for food every year so those societies who eat a lot of fish should have more weight given to their average number.
So we could attempt to apply a weighting based on geo-location and dietary patterns.
“Our World In Data” is an excellent resource for this kind of work. Being a bit of a geek, I downloaded their spreadsheet on the matter and did some very rough maths.
In 2017, the most recent year we have data for, on average, a US citizen consumed 58 times more beef than someone in Mozambique!
For poultry, it is substantially worse (and I’m not talking about their living conditions) … Israel consumed 150 times more chicken (mostly) than the central African country of Chad.
What about the pigs, I hear you cry!
The poor pigs. Those beautifully intelligent creatures we turn into bacon.
Well, the spreadsheet shows the Polish eat 82 times more pig meat than Kenyans (which is predominantly Christian) … I eliminated majority Muslim countries from the pig meat maths, for obvious reasons.
A Clear Pattern Emerges From The Data
We can see with those few examples above, a very clear picture begins to emerge of the massive differences in meat consumption between developed and developing nations.
The West is by far the most gluttonous in this regard!
Having said that, when it comes to fish, China is the clear winner consuming twice as much fish annually as the United States.
Seeing as fish is by far the animal food type which comprises the majority of animal lives lost every year, the numbers skew back to the developing nation of China.
What we can see clearly here is it’s fiendishly difficult to arrive at a meaningful figure for how many animals you save by not eating meat.
… but I’ll give it a go!
I’m going to assume you live in one of the developed nations of the “Western World” and using our average figure, apply some very basic weighting based on what is outlined above.
Western Societies Drive Most Animal Deaths
If you live in the United States, for example, based on beef consumption numbers, you would be consuming 3 times as much as the average global citizen.
Using extremely basic maths, applied to our average figure of 250 from earlier then we could say that you save 750 animal lives every year by not eating meat.
Applied to the entire population of the US that equates to 250 billion animal lives saved every year by quitting the meat.
Bit of a problem here though because that figure is a massive ⅛ of the 2 trillion total figure. So in reality, that is probably a bit high and this would be where the fish consumption skews the figures.
Applying a weighting factor of 0.7 (for convenience) we end up with 175 billion.
Or 527 animal lives saved per US citizen, per year, on average if we all stopped eating animals!
527 Is Just a Number We Arrived At
In this very unscientific article we used some readily available stats and calculated the number of animals you save by not eating meat.
As an alternative, we could have started with the per capita figures and worked out how many animals that equates to – again, a horribly complicated calculation.
In an article entitled “How Many Animals Do You Save By Going Vegan?” I arrived at a figure which is around half of this one (I’d actually forgotten about that article!). Just goes to show how difficult it is to calculate.
What we have successfully shown however is that by not eating meat, you definitely save some animals 🙂
That is what veganism is about.
Every animal life saved was worth it. Every conscious, sentient being we share this amazing planet with has the right to live out its natural life, just the same as we humans do.
Choose life, choose the planet Earth, choose veganism.
I hope you enjoyed this article and it has helped you learn more about veganism and the impact your choices have on the world around you. Please leave your comments below and share this with all your friends! I always reply to comments 🙂
Thanks for reading and have a compassionate day!