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Animal Frontiers Abstract - Research Articles

The hidden water resource use behind meat and dairy


This article in

  1. Vol. 2 No. 2, p. 3-8
    Published: December 22, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Arjen Y. Hoekstra
  1. Twente Water Centre, University of Twente, PO Box 217, 7522AE Enschede, the Netherlands


  • The consumption of animal products contributes to more than one-quarter of the water footprint of humanity. The water needed to produce feed is the major factor behind the water footprint of animal products. Reviewing feed composition and the origin of feed ingredients is essential to find ways to reduce the water footprint of meat and dairy.

  • The water footprint of any animal product is larger than the water footprint of a wisely chosen crop product with equivalent nutritional value.

  • In industrialized countries, moving toward a vegetarian diet can reduce the food-related water footprint of people by 36%.

  • Reducing the water footprint of meat and dairy requires an international approach and product transparency along the full supply chain of animal products.

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