Recently, I was speaking with an omnivore friend about which animal products cause the most animal deaths to create a single serving of a product. “Isn’t that obvious?” they replied. “Making a fish kills one fish. Making a turkey dinner kills one turkey. Why bother studying it?” 

I can understand their confusion. For many omnivores, it’s hard to look beyond the product in front of them to think about how many deaths occur during the process of producing meat for their meals. But when you eat a chicken breast for dinner, it causes more than just the death of the animal on your plate—that chicken died to produce this meal, but we also need to account for a proportion of the chickens who died before they could be slaughtered for meat, those whose meat was wasted because no one bought it or ate it, and even the lives of fish who were ground up for the chicken feed. Therefore, if we want to understand just how many animals die to create a single serving of an edible product, we have to take a closer look at the process of raising farmed animals.

Animal Product Impact Scale

Faunalytics has done an analysis that accounts for the “less obvious” deaths that go into animal product consumption. Our sixth and final Animal Product Impact Scale lists the top ten products that cause the most animal deaths per serving. They are as follows:

The top 10 animal products that cause the most animal deaths per serving.

Unlike our other scales, you’ll find that a number of pig products, including pork ribs and large pork cuts, are featured on this list. Many animal advocates were surprised to see this, because pigs’ large bodies mean that one life goes a lot farther in terms of meat production than fishes’ and chickens’ bodies. The reason is that pigs, much like chickens and fish, are fed fish as part of their diet—dozens of them over the course of their lives—and those fish lives must be accounted for.

You’ll also notice that much like our previous scales, fish and chicken products dominate the list. Despite how many chickens and fish suffer and die to feed us, they’ve traditionally been excluded from the public’s moral concern. However, this may be changing: A recent Faunalytics study found that U.S. consumers largely understand the needs and impressive capabilities of these animals, which gives us leverage as we study ways to convince people to take action to protect them.

Key Takeaways

I want to take a moment to share a few important reminders that I’ve brought up throughout this series (and don’t forget to visit Faunalytics for even more advice):

  • Remember that reduction is for everyone. There are many different ways to try reduction, no matter where you are along the continuum of plant-based eating. And if you’re speaking to a life-long meat-eater, there are plenty of different products on our impact scales that they might consider cutting out or cutting back on. Don’t give up!
  • Stay patient and compassionate. Starting and continuing on a reduction journey can be difficult, and each person faces their own unique challenges. Remember to be a source of comfort and support to your friends and family so that they’ll turn to you instead of giving up and turning away from reduction and veganism.
  • Be kind to yourself. Animal advocates face a number of risks, including stigma and compassion fatigue. It’s important to take time to address your physical, mental, and emotional health, and incorporate self-care as a regular part of your advocacy routine.
  • Faunalytics is here for you! If you find yourself stuck or in need of support, remember that we offer plenty of resources to improve your advocacy. For example, have a look through our research library and Infographics for data and insights to inform your advocacy efforts. And if you’re in need of additional support, you can attend our office hours.

If you’re still eating meat, consider giving “Meatless Monday” a try and switch out your battered fish filet for a hearty black bean burger with creamy mustard. If you’re 100% plant-based, then remember to share our scales with your friends and family who have yet to embark on their reduction journey.

You can also read more about Faunalytics research in Top 10 Animal Products to Stop Eating Now Based on Which Animals Suffer the MostTop Animal Products that Cause the Most SufferingTop 10 Foods that Cause Most Animal Deaths and Leave These Foods Off Your Thanksgiving Table to Reduce Animal Suffering.

Learn How to Cook Meatless Plant-Based Meals at Home!

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is not only good for animals but is known to help with chronic inflammationheart healthmental wellbeingfitness goalsnutritional needsallergiesgut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acnehormonal imbalancecancerprostate cancer and has many side effects.

For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

Here are some delicious plant-based “meaty” recipes to get you started!

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