The purpose of this article is to explore and answer that question. The calculations below are for Australian consumption patterns.
An Australian who eats land and sea animals could consume approximately 87,323 animals during their life and be responsible for around 121,000 deaths overall.
This is based on the average human lifespan for Australians of 82.25 years with average pa adult consumption of 92.5kg of land animals and 20kg of sea animals; with adjustments for younger years.
The 87,323 figure consists of:
[A] 1,809 land animals – being 1,742 chickens, 31.4 lambs, 25.4 pigs, 8.14 cows; and
[B] 85,514 sea animals being 7,774 medium fish and 77,740 smaller sea animals.
[C] If we add a “bykill” for seafood of 40% (reference below) this adds 34,206 more deaths for a total of 119,720 sea animals who are killed…
By adding [A] 1,809 land animals to [C] 119,720 sea animals with bykill, we arrive at 121,529 animals that might be killed for an average Australian omnivore’s consumption over 82.25 years.
The calculations for these figures are shown and explained below. Note that this overall figure does not include the chickens killed for egg production; nor the cows killed during dairy production; nor bee deaths for honey production; nor turkeys, ducks and kangaroos; nor all the wild animals who are hunted or otherwise killed when their habitats are cleared to make room for animal agriculture industries.
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[A] CALCULATING THE NUMBER OF LAND ANIMALS EATEN PER PERSON:
On searching for the “Australian average life expectancy” Google reports it as 82.25 years (2014).
Regards average meat consumption a 2016 OECD article titled “Meat consumption” is at https://data.oecd.org/agroutput/meat-consumption.htm It states the following figures for Australia in “Kilograms/capita, 2015”:
i) Chicken Poultry meat: 42 kg pa
ii) Cow beef & veal: 22.8 kg pa
iii) Pig pork meat: 20.3 kg pa
iv) Sheep meat: 7.4 kg pa
That totals 92.5 kg pa of those meats per adult Australian per annum. Noting that that is for those 4 groups only and does not include: sea animals who are discussed below; nor the animals killed for egg, dairy & honey production; nor during the process of clearing wilderness for animal agriculture.
Calculating How Many Animals are Killed regards those OECD Figures for Australians:
To calculate these figures we need to know how much of an animal is “live weight” and how much is consumable “retail weight”. I have obtained figures on that from a 2011 article titled “How much meat do we eat, anyway?” at http://livablefutureblog.com/2011/03/how-much-meat-do-we-eat-anyway
I then calculate from the retail weight how many animals a person consumes annually. To factor for people’s reduced consumption of food in childhood and teenage years I multiply that annual adult figure by half for the first 15 years of life. The lifetime of 82.25 years minus 15 child-teen (C) years equals 67.25 adult body (A) years. So the lifetime figures arrived at below come from adding the (C) and (A) figures. It’s not a perfect calculation but ought be good enough to find an approximate answer to the question posed in the title of this article.
i) Poultry (Chickens):
How much consumable “retail weight” meat is there on a chicken? The reference above states that for “Broiler (chicken)” the “Live weight” is “~6 lb”. That equals 2.7 kg. The “Retail weight” is stated as being 66% which is 3.96 pounds which equals 1.8 kg.
(A) Adult body years: 42 kg consumed pa divided by 1.8 kg per chicken equals 23.3 chickens per year. Multiply that by 67.25 adult years = 1567 chickens.
(C) Child-Teen body years: half of 23.3 equals 11.65 chickens. Multiply that by 15 years = 174.75 chickens; rounded to 175.
Total = 1567 + 175 = 1742 chickens consumed over 82.25 years.
ii) Cows (beef and veal):
How much consumable “retail weight” meat is there on a cow? The reference above states that for “Steer (beef)” the “Live weight” is “~1100 lb”. That equals 499 kg. The retail weight is stated as being 42% which is 462 pounds which equals 209.6 kg.
(A) Adult body years: 22.8 kg consumed pa divided by 209.6kg per cow equals 0.109 of a cow per year. Multiply that by 67.25 adult years = 7.315 cows.
(C) Child-Teen body years: half of 0.109 equals 0.0545 of a cow. Multiply that by 15 years = 0.8175 or 82% of a cow.
Total = 7.315 + 0.8175 = 8.133 cows consumed over 82.25 years.
iii) Pork meat:
How much consumable “retail weight” meat is there on a pig? The reference above states that for “Pig (pork)” the “Live weight” is “~235 lb”. That equals 106.6 kg. The retail weight is stated as being 56% which is 131.6 pounds which equals 59.7 kg.
(A) Adult body years: 20.3 kg consumed pa divided by 59.7 kg per pig equals 0.34 of a pig per year. Multiply that by 67.25 adult years = 22.867 pigs
(C) Child-Teen body years: half of 0.34 equals 0.17 of a pig. Multiply that by 15 years = 2.55 pigs.
Total = 22.867 + 2.55 = 25.417 pigs consumed over a human’s 82.25 years.
iv) Sheep meat:
How much consumable “retail weight” meat is there on a sheep/lamb? The OECD article states a figure of 88%. Regards weight the Australian Butcher’s Guild states: “Lambs as small as 12-14kgs dressed weight are supplied as suckling lamb, while the majority of lambs prepared for the Australian market are around 18-24kgs dressed weight range.” (Source: http://www.australianbutchersguild.com.au/Farming/Lamb)
So let’s use a mid-range carcass weight of 20 kg x .88 for a retail weight of 17.6 kg.
(A) Adult body years: 7.4 kg consumed pa divided by 17.6 kg per sheep equals 0.42 of a sheep per year. Multiply that by 67.25 adult years = 28.245 sheep.
(C) Child-Teen body years: half of 0.42 is 0.21 of a sheep. Multiply that by 15 years = 3.15 sheep.
Total = 28.245 + 3.15 = 31.395 sheep consumed over a human’s 82.25 years.
Before we look at the even greater consumption of sea animal lives let’s briefly ponder…
The “BYCATCH” or “BYKILL” of Eating Land Animals:
Ponder the millions of wild animals who are killed to: i) clear wilderness to breed and feed the cows, sheep, pigs and chickens that people consume; ii) that are hunted to stop them being on farm lands; and iii) that die as a result of the massive pollution from animal agriculture.
One illustration of this is provided by a World Bank report titled “Causes of Deforestation of the Amazon Brazilian Rainforest”. It states: “Land-use data on Amazonia demonstrates that the main cause of deforestation in the region is cattle ranching…” and “Cattle ranching enterprises now occupy nearly 75 percent of the deforested areas of Amazonia…” Source: pages 59 & XVIII in the PDF at https://tinyurl.com/amazondeforest
Here are some similar quotes regards Australia:
“Today, most land cleared in Australia is used for cattle grazing…” That’s from the Australian Government’s Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency. Source: this PDF titled “Drivers of Land Clearing in Australia” at
“Land clearing for beef production in the two states is the reason the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) nominated eastern Australia as one of eleven global deforestation fronts for the twenty years to 2030…” Source: https://terrastendo.net/2017/03/26/beef-the-reef-and-rugby-we-have-a-problem/
“The CSIRO has estimated that deforestation kills about 50 million mammals, birds and reptiles each year in [two of Australia’s eastern states] Queensland and New South Wales…” Source: https://newmatilda.com/2017/10/10/its-the-habitat-destruction-stupid/ CSIRO is The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, a federal government agency for scientific research in Australia.
Regards animal extinctions: “Australia is losing its mammals at a quicker rate than most regions in the world.” Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2015-02-10/losing-australian-native-mammals/6082624
For more reports about how animal agriculture is a major driving force behind the current ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ – the devastating loss of biodiversity which can threaten our own ongoing existence – see this page: https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/sixth-mass-extinction-loss-of-biodiversity-anthropocene-holocene-crisis-facts/
One example on there is a 2015 report in the journal Science of The Total Environment, it states: “Livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss… Livestock production is also a leading cause of climate change, soil loss, water and nutrient pollution, and decreases of apex predators and wild herbivores, compounding pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity…” Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969715303697
[B] CALCULATING THE NUMBER OF SEA ANIMALS EATEN PER PERSON:
Firstly some reference notes about seafood consumption:
1/. “Seafood forms a significant part of the Australian diet – we eat around 25 kg of seafood per person every year and our appetite has grown…” Source: http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au/pages/.html
2/. From the Department of Agriculture: “Australia’s apparent consumption of seafood (processed weight) increased from 13 kilograms in 2000-01 to 15 kilograms in 2012–13…” (Source: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/fisheries/aus-seafood-trade.pdf)
So for this purpose let’s aim for a middle figure of 20 kg of seafood per adult per annum.* This consumption may be a combination of:
[i] Medium Fish: If an adult Australian eats an average of 2 medium-sized fish per week that equals 2 fish x 52 weeks for 104 fish per annum. The math:
(A) Adult body years: Multiply 104 fish pa by 67.25 adult years = 6,994 fish.
(C) Child-Teen body years: half of 104 is 52. Multiply that by 15 years = 780 fish.
Total = 6,994 + 780 = 7,774 medium-sized fish consumed over a human’s 82.25 years.
[ii] Smaller Sea Animals like sardines, herring, mackerel, shrimp, prawns and other shellfish. Two serves per week of smaller sea animals could be 2 x 100g of sardines which may be ~20 animals; multiplied by 52 weeks that equals 1,040 small sea animals pa. The math:
(A) Adult body years: Multiply 1,040 pa by 67.25 adult years = 69,940 sea animals.
(C) Child-Teen body years: half of 1,040 is 520 pa. Multiply that by 15 years = 7,800 sea animals.
Total = 69,940 + 7,800 = 77,740 small sea animals consumed over 82.25 years.
From the above, the total number of sea animals consumed for 20kg pa (in adult life) and adjusted for child-teen years = 7,774 [i] + 77,740 [ii] = 85,514 sea animals over 82.25 human years.
Here is how the above examples of [i] + [ii] approximate the above consumption figure of around 20 kg per person of sea animals per annum. Regards [i] if we consider that 1 tin of sardines of 100g may have 10 fish in it and if we posit that an average person may consume 2 tins per week that is 200g X 52 weeks which equates to 10.4 kg per year. Regards [ii] if we consider a fish like Basa at 2 x 100g (1 fish) serves per week that is 200g x 52 weeks which equals 10.4 kg per year. Thus [i] + [ii] = 20.8kg.
[C] THE “BYCATCH” or “BYKILL” OF EATING SEA ANIMALS:
This refers to all the other sea animals that are killed to put animals in to people’s mouths. A 2014 report by Oceana.org states “According to some estimates, global bycatch may amount to 40 percent of the world’s catch”
So let’s add another 40% to the above figures:
– 7,774 medium-sized fish plus a 40% bykill (3,110) becomes 10,884 fish killed for each 82.25 yo Australian.
– The 77,740 small sea creatures plus 40% (31,096) becomes 108,836 sea animals killed per 82.25 yo person.
SUMMING IT UP AGAIN:
Each Australian human on an average omnivore diet may eat approximately 87,323 animals during their average 82.25 year lifespan. This includes:
[A] 1,809 land animals – consisting of 1,742 chickens, 31.4 lambs/sheep, 25.4 pigs & 8.14 cows; and
[B] 85,514 sea animals – consisting of 7,774 medium fish and 77,740 smaller sea animals.
[C] If we add a “bykill” for seafood of 40% this adds 34,206 further deaths.
Total of [B] + [C] = 119,720 sea animals who are killed…
Adding the by-kill figure of seafood to the killed land animals means an average Australian omnivore can be responsible for around 121,000 deaths during their 82.25 years.
Noting again that we have overlooked ducks, turkeys, kangaroos and the chickens who are killed to produce eggs (eg. notably male chicks); as well as the cows who are killed during the process of dairy production (for milk, cheese, yoghurts, cream) that are not consumed as flesh; nor are bee deaths accounted for in honey production; among other land animals such as those who are hunted or otherwise killed when their habitat lands are cleared to make room for animal agriculture.
Closing Question: Would you Personally Kill 121,000 Animals? And especially when you can be Healthier and Live Longer on a Plant-based Diet?
If your personal health concerns you then explore this page of quotes & links for science and medical journal reports on the great health benefits of vegetarian, vegan and plant-based diets. They report a longer life span (eg. the vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists of California live ~10 years extra) with lower rates of the degenerative diseases like: cardiovascular heart diseases, diabetes, cancers, osteoporosis bone diseases; plus lower blood pressure, hypertension and blood cholesterol levels; and lower BMI meaning lower rates of being overweight or obese. See https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/science-studies-vegan-vegetarian-health-diets-reports-less-chronic-disease-illness/
Likewise you can also find on this site many quotes and links for science journal and news reports on the higher rates of chronic diseases that are associated with meat consumption and dairy consumption and fish and seafood consumption as well as egg consumption.
For more reports on the devastating impacts that land-based animal agriculture has on wilderness, environments, resources and climate change see this page at https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/meat-dairy-diet-increases-climate-change-pollution-damage-to-our-environment/
For many articles about how over-fishing and toxic pollution of waterways (including from plastics and land-based animal agriculture) is wiping out life in the oceans see this page at https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/meat-dairy-diet-increases-climate-change-pollution-damage-to-our-environment/eating-seafood-overfishing-destroying-oceans-rivers-wildlife/
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This article was composed and published in 2017.
If you have any feedback on this article please leave a comment below.
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This set of articles were compiled for
Pages on this Site:
Quotes from news reports & science journals on how the Western omnivore diet with meat and dairy products accelerates climate-change through: i) increasing our carbon footprint of greenhouse gases; ii) deforesting & destroying wilderness that absorbs carbon and protects biodiversity; iii) creating massive pollution; and iv) wasting resources like grains, water, fuels and agricultural lands.
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Excerpts & links to medical studies, articles & reports on the links between meat consumption and increased incidences of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and early mortality (a shorter lifespan); also to reports on how cancers are increasing in young people.
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Quotes & links to articles in science, medical & health journals that report great benefits vegetarians and vegans generally have including longer lives with less of the chronic degenerative diseases like cancer, cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity as well as lower blood pressure, hypertension and blood cholesterol levels.
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Excerpts & links to articles in news media science journals about the current ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ known also as the ‘Holocene Extinction’ or ‘Anthropocene Extinction’ as it is largely caused by human activities.
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This page contains quotes & links for studies & articles in science journals, news media & by medical doctors; on the association of drinking milk to higher rates of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
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This page features quotes & links to articles in news media and science journals about the rise of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics; posing a grave threat to all of us; from 50% to 80% of antibiotics are (mis-)used in animal agriculture industries.
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This page features quotes & links to reports that expose how the animal agriculture industries (meat, dairy, poultry) influence government, politics, the education schooling system and news media in order to promote their interests.
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Excerpts from articles about the marine ecosystem collapse that is happening now in oceans, seas & rivers due to over-fishing and the toxic pollution in waterways from land-based animal agriculture meat-farming; worsening climate change; threatening the entire food chain.
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Articles from science journals & news reports that dispute the health claims made regards eating fish; some even find higher rates of heart disease and cancer among seafood consumers.
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A collection of quotes & links for articles by doctors, dietitians & nutrition experts who refute & rebut the negative claims made regards “the soy food debate”
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For Archives of Related Memes see:
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