Animal agriculture is one of the most destructive industries on Earth and a leading cause of biodiversity loss, demanding immense amounts of land, water, pesticides and fossil fuels. Livestock already occupy more than a quarter of the planet, with 70 percent of all agricultural land dedicated to their feed and production. More than 2 trillion pounds of livestock manure pollute rivers, lakes, wetlands and groundwater in the United States, and across the world, livestock production is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Millions of wild animals, including bears, foxes, prairie dogs, coyotes and wolves, are killed every year in the United States alone to protect meat-industry profits.
Food production is a major contributor to the climate crisis. Read our policy guide to reducing greenhouse gas emissions of U.S. diets by 2030.
Extinction Facts Labels crunch the numbers on popular meat products to – show just how much water, climate pollution and other threats to wildlife come with each serving.
The Center for Biological Diversity supports Beyond and Impossible burgers and other food innovations urgently needed to accelerate the shift toward plant-forward diets, which will reduce the environmental devastation caused by meat and dairy production.
Americans eat two to three times the global average of meat. Yet U.S. food policy, from subsidies to dietary guidelines, continues to shield the meat and dairy industry at the cost of a truly sustainable and secure national food system. While other nations are encouraging their citizens to eat less meat, the United States continues to lag behind the rest of the world in sustainable food policy.
The Center's Take Extinction Off Your Plate campaign works to raise awareness about the connection between the livestock industry and environmental degradation. It also urges people to reduce meat consumption by one-third or more as an important part of reducing demand for meat and dairy production. We advocate for government and corporate policies that support an Earth-friendly diet by making meat-free options more widely available and shifting from toxic factory farming practices to a more sustainable food system. Read more and check out our Earth-friendly recipes at Take Extinction Off Your Plate.
The recently released IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land affirmed what a growing body of evidence-based research has concluded: Food and agriculture must be addressed as a key driver of land-use change and the climate crisis. Read the full report here.
Every meal offers the chance to choose a better future for wildlife, the planet and people. As the Earth's population heads toward 10 billion people by 2050, we need a just, secure and sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food, fair treatment for workers, humane treatment of farmed animals and minimal impact on wildlife and the environment. The Center works with allies from health-advocacy, animal-protection and worker-justice organizations to redefine the concept of sustainable food to encompass practices that benefit people, animals and the planet.
We can only achieve a truly sustainable food system by drastically reducing meat consumption and production. In addition to meat reduction, a sustainable food system must conserve natural resources by minimizing waste and pollution, and protect both land and ocean ecosystems.
The Center's Food Waste campaign uses public education to call for policies that clarify date labels and prevent safe, nutritious from being thrown away. In concert with our environmental health program, we also work to stop toxic pesticides from contaminating soil and water. Through our oceans program, we're working to reduce seafood consumption and waste, harmful fishing practices and pollution of our oceans that further endanger marine wildlife.