Will Going Veg Help End the Drought?

© Adolfolazo | Dreamstime.com - Glass Of Water Photo

© Adolfolazo | Dreamstime.com - Glass Of Water Photo

By: Rachel

No doubt about it, the foods we eat have a huge impact on the planet. Here at SmartGirlVeg HQ, we've been struck by the statistics floating around in reference to the current drought situation in California. As a result, we've seen our social media feeds light up with questions like "should I give up meat to save water?"

The answer, like so many, isn't exactly a clear one. Here are some of the most intriguing facts we've uncovered about the impact meat and other animal food production has on our water supply:


*The meat industry is responsible for 30% of our water use in this country.

*It takes 1,847 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. Chicken is better, at 518 gallons per pound.

*It takes 90 gallons of water to produce one carton of Greek yogurt (that's more than regular yogurt, since Greek yogurt uses more milk to make since it's strained, resulting in a thicker product).


However, vegan options also have an impact.

*Ten percent of California's water goes to almond farming.

*It takes 23 gallons of water to produce one cup of almond milk.

*Nuts in general are the second biggest user of water, after beef.

*Soybeans and tofu take less water to producer per pound than lentils or chickpeas (all are still better options than beef, lamb, and pork, though)


So, would going vegetarian—or reducetarian, or mostly veg, or whatever you want to call eating less meat than you are now—help the current drought situation? After all, when you look at foods and compare them by water use per gram of protein, pulses—lentils, beans, and so on—are your clear winners, with eggs, milk, and chicken following behind (beef is still off-the-charts high).

Well, not right away, says one expert who was quoted in an article on the Huffington Post. However, she said that long-term, eating foods that have a lower water impact would decrease demand, which could decrease production.

Our take on it (to quote Gandhi, a dude who totally knew his stuff): Be the change you wish to see in the world. You don't always see the impacts right away. But you can't discount the fact that you vote every time you spend a dollar on food, and every time you put another morsel in your mouth. Bean burgers instead of beef ones in the long run can make a difference (though maybe think twice about washing it down with a big glass of almond milk...though we do love us some almond milk around here).

What do you think? Would you change your diet because of the long-term impacts it might have on the environment? Is the current drought situation in California impacting the way you eat?