Bad impact on small scale farmers

  • Industrial meat production turns farms into factories and damages rural life – small-scale sustainable farmers suffer under increasing price pressure since industrial meat production turns animals into commodities sold cheaply in supermarkets.

Bad impact on the environment and the climate

  • Industrial meat production is environmentally damaging – it causes deforestation and habitat loss for pasture and feed production, like soy, and wastes many natural resources.
  • Animal farming is one of the main causes of climate change and global animal production generates around 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (depending on the methodology used to calculate it). Among them are direct emissions such as methane arising from the animals, as well as emissions from feed production, associated with  deforestation
  • Intensive animal farming creates enormous amounts of liquid manure, which pollutes the groundwater with nitrates.

Bad impact on animals

  • Increased production of meat has led to increasingly intensive production methods, particularly for pigs and poultry. Cheap meat is invariably sourced from industrial factory farms. Intensive animal production systems include the selection of animals for rapid growth –  leading to lameness and other physiological disorders – and the use of  cages and crates or overcrowded conditions that severely restrict animal  behaviour.

Bad impact on Human health

Overuse and the  routine use of antibiotics in intensive animal production systems allows those systems to flourish as well as fuels the crisis of antibiotic resistance in humans consumption of too much red meat and processed meat probably increases the risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer. Red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet. That’s why it’s recommended that people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per day cut down to 70g, as this could help reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

Corporate interests behind factory farming

  • A few international corporations are gaining ever-increasing control over global intensive meat production.
  • The meat sector is doubly concentrated as companies are getting bigger through mergers and acquisitions – expanding across borders and across species – and production itself is intensifying, so that more and more animals are housed together to be grown and slaughtered as quickly as possible.


  • Despite a recent stagnation in Europe and North America, meat consumption remains extremely high. The booming economies in Asia and elsewhere will see around an 80 per cent increase in demand for meat and dairy products by 2022.

Existing alternatives

  • Eating meat does not have to damage the climate and the environment. Sustainable animal farming systems, part of extensive, mixed farming models exist.
  • Meat can be also replaced with plant based proteins like beans, pulses, lentils. Using local varieties of those can not only deliver a balanced diet but is affordable and can preserve the local agrobiodiversity and support local farmers.
  • Livestock farming can have environmental benefits. Over 40 per cent of the world’s land surface is too dry, too steep, too hot or too cold for crops. In such areas, livestock keepers have a strategic advantage: they can use their animals to convert the local vegetation into food and energy

What is not an alternative

  • Highly processed vegan and vegetarian products are not an alternative for us (many of those promoted by multinationals), we want to motivate people to cook with fresh, seasonal, local products which support the famers in the region
  • Lab meat or cultured meat is not an alternative either. It is also promoted by big multinationals who surely don’t care about the hunger in the world but their own economic interests.

Our demands/solutions

  • The way we produce and consume meat and dairy needs a radical rethink, in order to curb corporate control over food, to reduce health and environmental, climate impacts and to help citizens move towards a more sustainable diet.
  • We need to reduce our overall consumption of animal products and when we eat meat , get better quality animal products
  • To get those we need to:
    • When eating meat, make sure it’s from pasture-raised animals, free-range/outdoor raised.  Make sure it’s from a trusted / local producer or from certified high welfare systems like organic rather than factory farms;
    • Eat more vegetarian/vegan dishes. Instead of meat, use other protein sources such as legumes like beans, chickpeas, lentils or soy; try to get local, produced in country, region, the EU alternatives even better if those are local varieties; be sceptical of meat replacements – a good tofu is better than TVP (textured vegetable protein used in lots of meat replacements).Inform others, and start discussions on how much meat is enough. You can also get together with others to try and establish a veggie day in your lunch room, cafeteria or canteen, or to suggest a shift to local organic food, or simply make vegetarian options more visible and high up on the menu.
  • A model that secures livelihoods for farmers and increases trust between farmers and consumers by supporting responsible production practices such as extensive, pasture-based animal husbandry, e.g. through “community-supported agriculture”.
  • Ask politicians to stop factory farming and support sustainable, small-scale animal husbandry; Use your democratic power to tell your local, national, and EU representatives that you don’t want factory farms in Europe

More info on environmental resources

Intensive animal farming creates enormous amounts of liquid manure, which pollutes the groundwater with nitrates. This  has also a negative impact on biodiversity –  in the Netherlands animal farming contributes to around 46% of nitrogen pollution which also impacts on biodiversity (especially in protected Natura2000 areas). In Malta and Germany the ground water data is especially alarming. In Catalonia (Spain), nitrate pollution exceeds the regulatory limit (50 milligrams per litre) in 41 per cent of groundwater tables, and nitrate pollution has led to problems with access to drinking water in 142 of the region’s 947 municipalities. 

Due to high levels of pollution, water treatment can become very expensive. Our high levels of industrial meat consumption also use up resources we cannot see when looking at the meat on our plates. The production of one kilo of pig meat requires between 9 and 12 square metres of agricultural land, 5,990 litres of drinking water, 650 grams of soy feed, and causes 3,525 grams of carbon dioxide equivalents (the measure for the standardisation of the climatic effects of different greenhouse gases). In contrast to animal foods, plant-based foods cause far less harmful greenhouse gases. At the same time, our meat consumption goes hand-in-hand with a demand for large areas of agricultural land: one third of the farmland worldwide is solely used for growing animal feed crops. Likewise, the feed used for factory farming in Europe’s gigantic animal breeding centres mostly comes from North and South America. All this is associated with the use  of  energy/fossil fuels:  an average person consumes around 1600 liter of oil per year to consume a typical western diet with meat. More info on industrial livestock farming

Almost 148 million pigs are reared in the European Union, and the numbers are rising. Free-range farming is rarely part of a pig’s life. Usually pigs are kept using intensive farming methods – this means they are supposed to increase their weight as quickly as possible. They are mostly fed a high-protein feed, the main ingredient of which is often soy. There’s little space to move freely, and nothing to keep them busy, such as straw through which they could dig. Crammed into confined spaces, they often injure themselves. In order to prevent this, the piglets’ tails are docked (cut off) and their teeth are clipped right after birth. Although this practice has been banned for many years, it is still used in numerous places.

More info on antibiotic resistance
These farming conditions make the pigs sick, and so that they’re given large amounts of antibiotics., The amount of antibiotics used in animal farming varies between European countries. 

80% of antibiotics in the US are used in livestock farming. In the EU, 99% of veterinary antimicrobial agents sold are used for livestock. Of those, 90.1% are integrated directly into the feed, or sold to be added to the feed or water directly on the farm for group animal treatment. Group medication is used mainly in poultry and pig factory farms. The EU countries using most antibiotics in animal farming are Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Denmark. 

This practice leads, among other things, to the emergence of antibiotic resistance. When antibiotics become ineffective and pathogens become resistant to them, this not only affects the animals, but us human beings too.


The global system of intensive meat and dairy production is having an increasingly devastating impact on society and the environment.

Globally meat/dairy provides just 18% of calories but uses 83% farmland and contributes 58% agricultural GHGs, 57% water pollution, 56% air pollution.