Some notes on Water

Some gathered facts on water from a vegan perspective:

5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes while 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
(Center for Science in the Public Interest)

47% of California’s water footprint is associated with meat and dairy, and 4% with households.
(Pacific Institute)

“The production of a meat based diet typically consumes twice the amount of water as compared to a vegetarian diet.”
– UNESCO: Food, Water, and Energy Security

“Eating lower on the food chain could allow the same volume of water to feed two Americans instead of one, with no loss in overall nutrition.”
–Scientific American, “Growing More Food With Less Water”

“The water used just to irrigate alfalfa and hay [used mostly as livestock feed] exceeds the irrigation needs of all the vegetables, berries, and fruit orchards combined.”
– Center for Science in the Public Interest

“Almost half (720 GPCD) of the average Californian’s water footprint is associated with the consumption of meat and dairy products.”
– Pacific Institute

It takes about 1,000 gallons of irrigation water to produce a quarter pound of animal protein.
– Center for Science in the Public Interest

Animal feed has the greatest water requirements of any crop in California.
(Pacific Institute)

“You could save more water by not eating a pound of California beef than you could by not showering for an entire year.”
– John Robbins, “The Food Revolution”

In their report “Feeding a Thirsty World,” Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) scientists urge a global shift toward a plant-based diet to avoid future water catastrophe. (SIWI)

“On average, a vegan, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.”
– National Geographic, “Water Conservation Tips”

“Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we are going to face, in terms of the crises, as far as water is concerned. If you look at agricultural products, if you look at animal protein, the demand for which is growing—that’s highly water intensive.”
– Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change (in Scientific American)

It takes three times more water to produce milk than vegetables, ten times more water to produce eggs, fourteen times more water to produce chicken meat, nineteen times more water to produce pork, and forty eight times more water to produce beef than vegetables.
(The Water Footprint Assessment Manual: Setting the Global Standard)

“Replace a heavy meat meal by a vegetarian or light-meat meal (using other protein sources that are much less water-intensive.”
– The Water Footprint Assessment Manual: Setting the Global Standard

“Cow’s milk and beef burger have much larger water footprints than their soy equivalents.”
– University of Twente

“The global average water footprint of a 150 gram beef burger is 2350 litres and the water footprint of a 150 gram soy burger produced in the Netherlands is 158 litres. The water footprint of 1 litre of cow’s milk is 1050 litres and the water footprint of 1 litre soy milk produced in Belgium amounts to 297 litres.”
– University of Twente

Grain-fed beef production takes 100,000 liters of water for every kilogram of food. Raising broiler chickens takes 3,500 liters of water to make a kilogram of meat. In comparison, soybean production uses 2,000 liters for kilogram of food produced; rice, 1,912; wheat, 900; and potatoes, 500 liters.
(David Pimentel, professor of ecology in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)

“Over 70% of California’s alfalfa is produced in the Central Valley. Nearly 100% of the state’s alfalfa is irrigated.”
– UC Davis, Irrigated Alfalfa Management

“Rapid climate change, population growth, and a growing demand for meat (and, thus, for the water required to grow feed for livestock) have propelled them into a state of emergency.”
– The New Yorker on the dozens of countries with worsening chronic water shortages

“As populations grow more prosperous, vegetarian lifestyles often yield to a Western diet, with all the disasters that implies. The new middle classes, particularly in India and China, eat more protein than they once did, and that, again, requires more water use. (On average, hundreds of gallons of water are required to produce a single hamburger.)”
– The New Yorker

“Estimates are that a 1/3 pound burger requires 660 gallons of water to be produced, most of which is for the beef. One pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons, a pound of cheese requires 700 gallons, and two slices of bread require 22 gallons.”
– EPA blog post

“All told, alfalfa and hay [livestock feed] production in the West requires more than TEN TIMES the water used by the region’s cities and industries combined, according to some estimates.”
– New Republic (author of this quote Christopher Ketcham sources ecologist George Wuerthner for this)

“The biggest way an individual can curtail his or her water consumption via diet is by cutting back on meat and animal products, which are among the most water-intensive foods.”
– East Bay Express

“Now that you know the water footprint of your favorite foods, what can you do in this time of drought? Eat more vegetables!” -SF Gate

“Go vegan: all animal products, including cheese, eggs, butter and milk take a lot of water to produce.”
– EcoWatch’s #1 water-saving tip

“Livestock production also represents an inefficient use of water…A global shift in diets away from livestock products could free significant water resources.”
– Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs

California is shipping “a hundred billion gallons of water per year” in the form of alfalfa [for overseas livestock]. “It’s a huge amount. It’s enough for a year’s supply for a million families.”
(Professor Robert Glennon, who teaches a course on water law at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona)

“High-protein foods, such as beans and tofu, require much less water than meat.”
– Environmental Working Group

“A California Water Education Foundation study found that one gallon of tofu requires 219 gallons of water per pound, compared to 477 gallons for eggs, 896 gallons for cheese and 2,463 gallons for beef. A frequently cited global study estimates that it takes 1,857 gallons to produce a pound of beef, and 469 gallons for a pound of chicken (not including processing).”
– Environmental Working Group

“In the case of agriculture and drought, there’s a clear and accessible action most citizens can take: reducing or, ideally, eliminating the consumption of animal products.”
– New York Times

“By making one meal a week with lentils instead of beef, a family of four can save the equivalent of 17 bathtubs full of water.” – Oxfam International, The Food Transformation: Harnessing consumer power to create a fair food future

“Choosing beans instead of meat can help relieve the immense strain our water resources are already under, and help secure safe food supplies for everyone’s future.” – Oxfam International, The Food Transformation: Harnessing consumer power to create a fair food future

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