The environmental impact of meat consumption, by species

Meat consumption is a topic that generates debate not only for ethical and health issues, but also for its impact on the environment. The production of meat from each animal has different consequences, some more serious than others.

Pork Meat: Pork production also has a considerable environmental impact, although less than beef. Large amounts of water and feed are needed to raise pigs, creating problems with pollution and unsustainable use of resources.

Chicken meat: Chicken meat is one of the most popular options due to its price and versatility. However, industrial chicken production also has its consequences. Poultry farms generate large quantities of excrement that can contaminate water and soil. Additionally, the use of antibiotics in chicken farming is a growing problem leading to drug resistance.

Fish meat: Fish production can be more sustainable than terrestrial meat production, especially if done responsibly. However, overfishing and illegal fishing are threatening the sustainability of fishery resources. Additionally, aquaculture, or farming fish, can have a negative environmental impact if not managed properly.

Beef consumption and its environmental impact

Beef is a popular food in many cultures, but its production has a considerable environmental impact that is important to be aware of. The main environmental consequences of beef consumption are explored below:

Emissions of greenhouse gases:

  • Bovine farming is responsible for 14,5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mainly methane and nitrous oxide, both with a much higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide.
  • Methane is produced by enteric fermentation in ruminants and nitrous oxide is released from soil fertilized with manure.

Deforestation and loss of biodiversity:

  • La expansion of livestock It is one of the main causes of deforestation, especially in tropical rainforests.
  • Clearing forests to create grazing land and grow fodder for livestock destroys natural habitats and endangers thousands of species.

Water consumption:

  • A significant amount of water is required to produce beef. It is estimated that around 15.000 liters of water to produce one kilo of meat.
  • This amount of water is equivalent to what a person would drink for 50 days.
  • Water consumption for livestock farming is a major problem in areas with water scarcity.

Water contamination:

  • Livestock excrement can contaminate surface and groundwater with nitrates and pathogens.
  • This pollution can cause eutrophication of waters, the proliferation of harmful algae and the death of fish.

Land use:

  • Livestock farming occupies a large amount of land, approximately 30% of the planet's land surface.
  • This land could be used for other purposes, such as more sustainable food production or biodiversity conservation.

Solutions and alternatives:

  • Reducing beef consumption is the best way to minimize your environmental impact.
  • Eating locally and sustainably produced beef can help reduce environmental impact.
  • There are alternatives to beef, such as plant proteins, that have a much lower environmental impact.

In conclusion:

Beef consumption has a significant environmental impact. If we want to protect the planet, it is important to reduce our beef consumption and look for more sustainable alternatives. There are alternatives to meat such as vegetable proteins, which have a much lower environmental impact. Legumes, nuts and seeds are good sources of protein and other nutrients.

  • The production and consumption of meat has a significant environmental impact, which varies depending on the animal species.
  • Beef has the greatest environmental impact, followed by pork and chicken.
  • Responsible meat consumption and the search for alternatives are key to reducing the environmental impact of food.


  • Reduce meat consumption, especially beef.
  • Consume meat from animals raised in sustainable systems.
  • Opt for vegetable proteins as an alternative to meat.
  • Learn about the environmental impact of meat production.

Remember: Our decisions as consumers have an impact on the planet. Choosing a more sustainable diet is a way to contribute to the protection of the environment.