The reason why I became a pescetarian (English)

(This is the article written by Stefanie He)
※日本語版はこちら(Japanese version)
※ドイツ語版はこちら(German version)

Animal welfare is not everything.

Meat-free diet for environmental protection.

At a glance: in 2014, about 4.7% of all Japanese described themselves as vegetarians or vegans. In Germany it is currently (2020) around 12%. 1.2

There are many reasons not to eat meat. The idea of animal welfare is very widespread, due to the often adverse conditions of modern factory farming and the associated empathy for the animals. According to a Statista study, in 2010 61% of all Germans surveyed stated that they avoided meat for moral reasons. Second place came with 22% health reasons followed by emotional reasons (Ø 9%) 3.

And although these reasons are legitimate and important, I would like to take a different look at the topic today; Why does it make sense to avoid meat for environmental and climate protection? The most important points in a nutshell:

  • Trophy levels - high demands on natural resources
    ・high land use for growing cattle food
     → 59.88% of the agricultural area in Germany is used for the cultivation of animal food and the average worldwide is 60% 4.5
     → Feed (soybeans) for the European market often comes from South America, where rainforest is being cleared for increasing demand
    ・7kg of grain is needed to produce 1kg of meat6
    ・Intensive beef produced in Germany uses 5,991L water per kilogram. For comparison: a kilogram of rice needs about 3000L of water, a kilogram of wheat about 783 L7
  • Water pollution from mass-meat production
    ・Nitrification of the groundwater through a high manure input from mass-meat production8
    ・Waterplants have to introduce/install additional water treatment stages or mix water from different     sources in order to comply with the applicable limit Nitition values9
    ・Large quantities of environmentally harmful pesticides are often used in the cultivation of animal feed. In addition to water and drinking water, these severely affect insects and biodiversity10
  • Health aspects
    ・To meet the requirements that the market places on mass-meat production, growth hormones are often added to the animals food. It cannot be ruled out that these hormones and their breakdown substances also have an impact on the human body11
    ・Poor housing conditions also require the use of antibiotics, which also find their way into the human body through the food chain12

In addition, a world population that has been growing for decades and increasing global prosperity (primarily in developing countries, but also China) mean that global meat consumption will continue to increase in the coming years. This not only has a bad impact on environmental protection, but also on the climate. Agriculture and its supply chains emitted 7.1 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in 2016, contributing 14% to global greenhouse gas emissions.

The meat industry itself consists of a long and highly branched supply chain made up of components that are often impossible to trace. Substances such as pesticides or fertilizers that were used to produce animal feed are no longer visible to the consumer on the finished product. Therefore, it is often impossible to estimate exactly which substances end up on our plate - or were used for food production.

What is certain, however, is that cheap meat can never be produced without great environmental pollution.


1 Vice 2014
2 ProVeg International
3 Statista 2010
4 global agriculture
5 JapanTimes
6 Bundesinformationszentrum Landwirtschaft
7 Virtuelles Wasser
8 Nitrifizierung des Grundwassers
9 Klärstufen
10 Artenvielfalt NABU
11  Wachstumshormone auf dem Teller
12 Antibiotikarückstände im Fleisch