Chicken instead of beef: why that’s not a good idea

Many people choose chicken over beef to save on carbon emissions and avoid red meat. But in reality, traditional chicken farming has serious consequences for the environment and for the animals themselves.

According to a study by Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, we don’t quite have to do that give up meatto preserve the climate. Instead, we should primarily avoid beef and dairy products and replace them with chicken and eggs. This could actually cut greenhouse gas emissions from someone who eats meat in half.

In fact, according to Öko-Test, beef contains one ko2The balance which is about four times higher than that of poultry. In addition, beef production requires about 23 times the land area and three times the amount of water that chicken meat. If we use these numbers only as a guide, greenhouse gas emissions per person would initially decline if people ate chicken instead of beef.

But this is not enough: if more and more people begin to eat more poultry, then many more chickens will have to fatten and slaughter them. Let’s focus on meat traditional farming This means that the number of factory farms will continue to increase. This not only means great suffering for animals, but also causes fatal environmental pollution.

Chicken instead of beef: the number of slaughtered chicken is increasing

Beef consumption in Germany has decreased since 1995.
(Photo: CC0/Pixabay/Ilona Burschl)

Eating chicken instead of beef for climate reasons seems to be gaining traction. Beef consumption in Germany has decreased since 1995. While in 1995 the consumption was 11.5 kg per capita, in 2020 this figure was only 9.8 kg. On the other hand, the consumption of poultry has been increasing steadily since 1995. In 1995, the per capita consumption was eight kilograms. In 2020, the value was 13.3 kg. This may be related to the fact that red meat is often said to be unhealthier than lean meat.

Also in the United States, beef consumption fell by about a third between the 1970s and 2017. On the other hand, poultry consumption doubled during this period.

This has consequences: in order to produce nearly the amount of meat from one cow, 134 chickens would have to die. In order to be able to meet the increasing demand, more and more facilities are being built in which animals have to live crammed together in a very small space.

This is also confirmed by figures from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation: while the number of animals slaughtered in Germany generally decreases every year, the number of chickens slaughtered continues to rise. In 2020, German slaughterhouses killed 2.6 million more chickens than the previous year. There is also evidence that farmers fatten the animals more so that one chicken produces more meat when it is slaughtered. This tormenting breeding means great physical suffering for the animals.

Chicken instead of beef: animal suffering

The increased demand for chickens has serious consequences for social birds. In 2020, farmers in Germany kept about 92 million chickens for poultry meat production. 97 percent of these animals live in traditional dwellings. According to the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, hens live in enclosed rooms, hardly do any exercise, and usually do not see sunlight in their lives.

In a confined space, animals shed their droppings. Because of their lack of space and exercise, they experience high levels of stress and develop behavioral disorders and illnesses. Since they cannot avoid each other, it happens again and again that individual animals are crushed. In addition, the concentration of dust and pollutants in the air increases with time. Torture reproduction ensures that animals can move only slowly and with great pain.

According to, chickens feel the same pain as human burn victims under these conditions. As more and more people start eating chicken instead of beef, so does the number of chickens who have to put up with this suffering.

Traditional chicken farming: consequences for the environment

Animal droppings are used as fertilizer.
Animal droppings are used as fertilizer.
(Photo: CC0/Pixabay/TheDigitalArtist)

Many people assume that eating chicken instead of beef is good for the environment. But if you take a closer look at the effects of chicken fattening regimens, it turns out that they cause serious damage to nature. When animals are traditionally kept in a very small space, large amounts of faeces are produced. According to, that’s up to ten million tons a year in the United States.

Usually, animal droppings are used as fertilizer for arable land. But such large amounts of chicken droppings far outweigh the need for fertilizer. Instead, the droppings often end up in the surrounding bodies of water. There accumulates an abundance of nutrients, in particular nitrogen and phosphorous on. This in turn leads to so-called dead zones in which plants cannot grow. In addition, excreta contaminates water bodies with pathogens such as salmonella. These include bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics.

The consequences of this contamination are primarily felt by people who live near these mast systems. In addition to unpleasant odors, in the worst case this can lead to contamination of groundwater and, consequently, health consequences.

Conclusion: what to eat?

If you like to eat meat from time to time, be sure to buy organic poultry.
If you like to eat meat from time to time, be sure to buy organic poultry.
(Photo: CC0/Pixabay/music4life)

So chicken instead of beef couldn’t be the diet of the future. to actually become an animal and Climate-friendly eatingFirst of all, we should eat less animal products and replace them with plant foods. If you don’t want to switch to a vegetarian diet overnight, you can follow this diet in small steps. It can help us, for example 10 tips for becoming a little more vegan. Start with two to three days a week where you only eat vegan. Over time, you may be able to increase your vegan days more and more.

Worried that you won’t get enough protein? In fact, there are a variety of plant foods that provide you with plenty of protein. These lenses include, chickpeasor beans or tofu. You can learn more about this in this article: Plant Proteins: Top 5 Sources

Still missing inspiration for vegetarian dishes? Then this article can help you: Vegetarian meal plan: 7-day recipes

For moderate meat consumption, the World Wildlife Fund recommends eating no more than 300g of meat per week. On days when you want to eat some meat, you should rely on organic quality poultry. This is how you guarantee one More breeding of species-friendly animals, where chickens have about twice the space and exercise in the open air compared to traditional chicken farming and are not subjected to any torture. who – which Demeter– And the organic landSeals have particularly strict regulations in this regard. You can learn more about this here: The organic seal: what do animals get out of it?

there in Organic Agriculture If fewer animals are kept in a larger area, the amount of excretions will not be large. In addition, chickens can better spread their droppings over pasture themselves.


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Tags: Meat, how to be kind to animals, animal welfare, animal welfare

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