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Meat-free diets spare 2,000+ farm animal lives.

Australians can spare thousands of lives by cutting meat from their diets.

Your typical Australian will eat more than two thousand farm animals during their life.

  • Based on current dietary habits, Australians are eating 25 farm animals per year.¹
  • Over a lifespan, this would add up to 2,064 livestock being killed for meat, including 1,994 chickens, 32 sheep, 29 pigs and 9 cows.

The estimates above are based on official figures on livestock slaughters, meat production and meat consumption available from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.² ³ With this information, it is possible to get an approximation of how many farm animals were killed to supply the meat that the typical Australian demanded in the last decade (2009–10 to 2018–19).

A ten-year average of recent figures reveal (see Table 1):

  • 629 million livestock animals are slaughtered in Australia per year, including 8.5 million cows, 29 million sheep, 4.9 million pigs and 587 million chickens.
  • Measured by carcase weight, annual meat production yielded 2.3 billion kilograms of beef, 654 million kg of sheep meat, 372 million kg of pig meat, and 1.1 billion kg of chicken.
  • Measured by carcase weight, an Australian eats 28kg of beef, 9kg of sheep meat, 27kg of pig meat, 45kg of chicken each year.

The estimation involves multiplying a ratio of livestock slaughters per kilogram of meat (e.g. cattle slaughtered per kg of beef harvested) by the per capita consumption figure (e.g. 28kg of beef). This gives us slaughters per person per year for each meat type. It works out to a sum total of 25 farm animals being killed annually to satisfy the consumption habits of each Australian. Projecting this figure over the lifespan of the typical person, approximately 83 years here,⁴ the number of livestock being killed would reach 2,064 animals, including 1,994 chickens, 32 sheep, 29 pigs and 9 cows.

Cutting meat from your diet can spare the lives of thousands.

Table 1. Livestock slaughters per Australian meat-eater


[1] Estimate only considers cattle and calves, sheep and lambs, pigs, and chickens. Other animals killed for meat (e.g. fish) are not included in the estimation due to insufficient data.

[2] Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. (2020). Agricultural commodities: December quarter 2020 — Statistics [Datafile and codebook]. https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-outlook/data#agricultural-commodities. See Table 12.

[3] Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. (2020). Agricultural commodity Statistics 2020 [Datafile and codebook]. https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/research-topics/agricultural-outlook/data#2020. See Table 12.1.

[4] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2019). World Population Prospects 2019 — Mortality data [Datafile and codebook]. https://population.un.org/wpp/Download/Standard/Mortality/

[5] Note that for presentation purposes, entries are rounded to the nearest integer.

Originally published at https://vstats.substack.com.

Data-driven analysis on animal rights and plant-based diets.