Reducing suffering through mindful consumption: One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories

From Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories

One conclusion of the Cornell study was that meat generally increases land requirements of a diet, but diets including a small amount of meat could result in less land required per capita than some high-fat vegetarian diets (that include milk and eggs) because of cattle converting forage on land unsuitable for crops into human-edible calories. It is probably true that raising ruminant animals on pasture unsuitable for crops would increase the total amount of human-edible calories in the food supply, but it is critical to point out that chicken, pork, and at least 85 percent of beef is fattened in a feedlot on corn grown on land that could be divided between growing food for direct human consumption and wildlife habitats. The gain of human edible calories achieved by grazing cattle is not much of a benefit considering that there is enough suitable cropland to grow enough calories to feed everyone without the additional calories gained from raising cattle on pasture, and that cattle grazing has an environmental cost. Cattle are a non-native species to the United States, and cattle grazing is destructive to the environment in numerous ways, including soil loss to erosion, reduced survival of seedling trees, and loss of species diversity.

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.

Please have a look at the interactive data at for further information.

On Ahimsa

Ahimsa may be realized by future beings in different ways as human beings experience new circumstances. There is no fixed reality.

If all sutra texts were destroyed in a great cataclysm, the awakened ones would still realize the vegan way of life and know it as the Buddha’s compassionate teaching. It would be reborn with every breath and in every generation.

May all beings be happy and well.

From Ahimsayana Buddhism – The Way of Vegan Buddhists