Water requirements for meat production

According to the media, livestock farming consumes large amounts of water, especially beef production; a value of 15,000 L per kg of beef is often cited. This amount includes the rainwater required to produce the plants the animals eat (“green water”). It also includes an estimate of the virtual water necessary to dilute water pollution (“grey water”). Estimates of the surface or ground water directly consumed by livestock farming (“blue water”) are lower (on average 550 L per kg of beef by the Water Footprint Network method, or around 600-700 L per kg of beef via life cycle assessment), or even less in terms of impact. This article also demonstrates geographic decoupling between livestock farming activities and water scarcity, and discusses a few ways to reduce water consumption by livestock farming.