Cultural habits, tastes and animal farming methods differ widely around the globe, so it would be a tall order to cover the huge subject of animals for consumption in a few short paragraphs. The following figures are just a small snapshot of how many animals are used in the farming industry to provide meat to an ever-increasing worldwide population. The figures do not include the number of animals that are killed by the dairy and egg industries.
An estimated 50 billion chickens are slaughtered for food and a billion sheep are taken to the abattoir every year and nearly 1.5 billion pigs are killed (i). More than 300 million cows were slaughtered for food in 2016 according to United Nations data (ii). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that a total of 156.2 million tons of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, and other aquatic animals were killed in 2011 (iii). These statistics do not include other animals killed for human consumption for the more “rarefied” palate, or those consumed seasonally, such as turkeys.