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The Food We Eat and its Impact on the Environment by Nick Pendergrast


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You can listen to the audio from this talk here:

Information about the speaker, Nick Pendergrast:
Teaches Sociology at Melbourne University and has multiple academic publications.
More information:

This was the 3rd talk from event The Food We Eat: Its Impacts on Environments and Bodies. This event was held in Townsville, Australia:

You can listen to the 1st and 2nd talks from this event here:

Samara Grumberg: The Food We Eat and its Impact on Human Health:

James Aspey: The Food We Eat and its Impact on Animals:

This event was organised by Samara and Townsville Vegans:

Published in: Environment
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The Food We Eat and its Impact on the Environment by Nick Pendergrast

  1. 1. Nick Pendergrast
  2. 2. 13% 18-51%  Sources:  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: overview, full report.  The Worldwatch Institute.
  3. 3.  ‘Thinking of helping the planet by buying an eco-friendly car? You could do more by going vegan, say Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin of the University of Chicago.  Standard Western diet: nearly 1400kg more carbon dioxide (CO2) per person per year than a vegan diet.  Source: New Scientist. Cars and Diets
  4. 4. Methane  Animal agriculture: 37% of all human-induced methane (23x as warming as CO2).  Methane stays in the air for 9 years, CO2 = decades/centuries.  Sources:  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 
  5. 5. United Nations Report  ‘A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products’.  ‘A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change’.  Source: The Guardian.
  6. 6. Source:
  7. 7. The Great Barrier Reef  Clearing, grazing – soil erosion – affects the reef.  Beef production in the surrounding catchment responsible for over 75% of sediment in the reef's waters.  Source: Queensland Government.
  8. 8. Grain – Animals Rather than People  The world’s cattle alone consume enough food to feed 8.7 billion people – more than the entire human population.  Causing poverty? Problem of distribution.  Animal agriculture is inefficient: 6 kg of plant protein – 1 kg of animal protein.  Standard Western diet >907 kg grain per person per year.  Typical plant-based diet <205 kg.  Source: Eating Up the World.
  9. 9. Water use – diet and household use Source: Eating Up the World
  10. 10. Water use for different products Source: Eating Up the World
  11. 11. What about the oceans?  53% marine fish stocks = fully exploited (current catches are at or close to their maximum sustainable productions, with no room for further expansion).  28% = over-exploited (yielding less than their maximum potential production owing to excess fishing pressure).  Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, page 8.
  12. 12. Food and the Oceans  Eating marine animals directly.  ‘Pigs and poultry around the world consume more than double the seafood eaten by Japanese consumers and six times the amount consumed by the U.S. market’.  Source: Institute for Ocean Conservation Science.
  13. 13. “Sustainable” animal products?  World Preservation Foundation:  ‘A global vegan diet (of conventional crops) would reduce dietary emissions by 87 percent, compared to a token 8 percent for “sustainable meat and dairy”.’  If the world turned vegan by 2050…  8.1 million avoided deaths.  Source: Marco Springmann, The Conversation.
  14. 14. Numbers of animals killed for food (US) Source:
  15. 15. Cruelty to Animals  According to a survey of over 1000 Australians:  ‘99% of Australians are against cruelty to animals’.  Source: A Pound of Flesh study, page 4.
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  17. 17. Statements on Vegan Diets  American Dietetic Association:  ‘Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and … appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes’.  Very similar statements from Australia's peak health body, the National Health and Medical Research Council, as well as from the Dietitians of Canada.
  18. 18. Further Information  – ‘For the Planet’.  