A number of people have contacted me about the Animal Kill Counter in the sidebar of this blog saying that is a very useful reminder of just how many animals are being killed every second of the day by the meat, dairy and egg industries.
The rates of deaths are staggering… and that’s what many of us want to help eliminate.
However, have you stopped to consider how many animals would still die if there was a worldwide move to purely plant-based diets?
One person who has taken on the task of finding an answer to this question is Mark Middleton, artist, web developer, and animal advocate. Mark has looked at the research into the numbers of animal deaths associated with producing a million calories from eight different foods categories.
Here, Mark gives a little background to his project:
The idea that a vegan diet kills as many or more animals than a meat-based diet is sometimes used as a rationalization for consuming meat, and this idea serves to add uncertainty to the ethical case for a plant-based diet. In an attempt to help clear up this uncertainty, I have made estimates of the number of animals killed directly by slaughter as well as through crop harvesting in order to produce one million food calories from eight different categories of food, shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: A diet of plants causes the fewest animals to be killed. Leaving chickens and eggs out of our diets will have the greatest effect on reducing the suffering and death caused by what we eat. [Source: Mark Middleton/Animal Visuals]
The visual is interactive. You can click on the three tabs to show the different death statistics associated with harvest, slaughter, and both harvest and slaughter. You will notice that the chicken and egg-producing industries account for the highest death rates.
Mark has written detailed notes to go with this graphic which you can find over at Animal Visuals. I urge you to go read it in conjunction with the visual representation above. In conclusion, Mark states:
The results of this estimation show that a diet that includes animal products will result in more animal deaths than a plant-based diet with the same number of calories. The production of chicken meat results in vastly more animal deaths than any other category of food. Based on this estimation, someone wanting to modify their eating habits in order to reduce animal suffering and death should start by removing chicken from their diet, then eggs. Although beef may cause more animal deaths than pork, pork probably causes more suffering, because most of the beef-related deaths are wild animals, and in comparison, a greater number of the pork-related deaths are factory farmed animals. The most animal suffering and death can be prevented by following a vegan diet.
Thanks again to Mark for his great work on this project and his use of innovative methods of helping to highlight the plight of so many animals in the modern food industry. The findings of Mark’s project are available at Animal Visuals.