At the start of World Water Week - the forum tackling global water challenges - The Vegan Society has called for a shift in water saving policy, asking people to re-examine their diets for the benefit of the environment and everyone without access to clean drinking water.
Producing animal products is highly resource-intensive, responsible for nearly one-third of the total water footprint of agriculture globally . Demand for water is increasing, a trend that is set to continue, and millions of people are affected by drought every year.
Jasmijn de Boo, CEO of The Vegan Society, said: “Aside from the unavoidable cruelty, feeding crops to farmed animals to then consume as meat and dairy products is an incredibly wasteful and inefficient way to produce food.
“We are frequently encouraged to save water in our everyday lives through making small changes such as taking shorter showers and curbing hosepipe usage. This is fine, but not even remotely the most effective way to save a significant amount of water, which is best achieved through a diet free of all animal products.”
A huge amount of water is needed to grow crops, which are then fed to farmed animals, who also require large quantities of water to drink - growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the United States.
The Institute of Mechanical Engineers' report on food waste  found that around 10,000 litres of waters are required to produce 1kg of meat, compared with only 300 litres to produce 1kg of potatoes, while the Water Footprint Network found that it takes 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk.
De Boo added: “It is clear that our current way of eating is unsustainable and inefficient. By choosing a vegan diet, and eating crops directly, we can be kinder to the planet, ourselves, and animals.”
1. Mekonnen, M.M. and Hoekstra, A. (2012). A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products.
2. Jacobson, Michael F. (2006). “More and Cleaner Water”. In Six Arguments for a Greener Diet: How a More Plant-based Diet Could save Your Health and the Environment.
3. Institute of Mechanic Engineers (2013). Global Food Waste Not Want Not.
4. Water Footprint Network, "Product Water Footprints".