This page provides the most complete determination of the numbers of animals who died to feed Americans.

(This page is no longer up to date. For the latest data, visit

See below for complete figures for 2000-2010. However, 2011 figures for land animals (but not yet sea animals) are now available; here's a sneak peek, with some highlights:

In 2011, compared to 2010:
  • The average meat-eater ate 1 fewer land animal — a 4% drop from 27.1 to 26.1 animals.
  • Cattle, pigs, chickens for meat, and chickens for eggs each saw a drop of 3-5%. (Turkeys saw a small 0.7% increase.)
  • Overall, the number of land animals that died for Americans fell from 8.4 to 8.2 billion, or 242 million fewer animals – including 1 million fewer cows, 5 million fewer pigs, and 240 million fewer chickens (but an additional 5 million turkeys).
Long-term trend:
  • In 2011, the average meat-eater caused the deaths of fewer cows, fewer pigs, and fewer chickens than any other year going back to at least 2000, while deaths for turkeys and ducks remain at near lows.
  • Since peaking in 2004, the average meat-eater eats 4 fewer land animals — a 13% drop from 31.2 to 27.1 animals.
  • Overall, that’s a nationwide drop from 8.9 billion in 2005 to 8.2 billion in in 2011, or 725 million fewer.
                                                                          Calculated by Noam Mohr,, May 2012

In all, 62 billion animals died to feed Americans in 2010.
Over a lifetime, this amounts to 16,000 animals per meat eater.

For details, see:

What these numbers include
These numbers are not derived from slaughter figures (except for rabbits, included in the summary). They include deaths from all causes, including: disease, injury, culling, bycatch, discarded male egg-type chickens, production of food that is discarded and not consumed, fish used to feed other fish on fish farms, etc.

These numbers are global. They include deaths abroad for imported animal products, and exclude US deaths for exported animal products.

These numbers only include deaths after birth/hatching. Fetal deaths are not considered.

Land animal numbers are all based on US government statistics: U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Census Bureau. The only exceptions are U.N. statistics on duck imports/exports, and independent polls of the numbers of vegetarians and vegans.

Sea animal numbers are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, but are converted to final values based on a wide variety of sources.

Calculated by Noam Mohr,, Jan 2012

Numbers Fact-Checked by

This calculation (or more precisely, the nearly identical 2009 calculation) was featured by the non-partisan fact-checking organization after it was cited by PETA when praising former president Bill Clinton's vegan diet. deemed the numbers accurate, but called PETA's citing them "half-true" because PETA did not specify that many were fish and shellfish.

Comparisons by Year 2000-2010

The total number of land animals who died for American diets increased by more than 200 million from 2009 to 2010 – or half an animal per meat-eater. This was due to an increase in the numbers for chickens (both meat and egg-type), and in spite of a decrease in numbers for cattle, pigs, and turkeys.

The past decade, however, shows a clear downward trend in animals dead per meat-eater. For every land species, numbers were lower in 2010 than they were 2000.

The total animal number is dominated by shellfish. As with most small animal species, a long-term downward trend is marred by a recent uptick in numbers:

The number of cattle and pig deaths have shown a steady decline for more than a decade:

Land animal deaths are dominated by chickens raised for meat, which have shown a sharp 14% decline since 2004, until a sudden reversal of the trend in 2010:

Recent years have seen a increase in deaths of chickens for eggs:

Turkey and duck deaths have both shown dramatic decreases over the last decade, though the large variability makes it difficult to know with confidence whether this marks a trend:

Calculated by Noam Mohr,, Jan 2012

Slaughter Statistics

The number of animals slaughtered in the US comprise only a portion of the total number that die here, as many do not reach the slaughterhouse. Neither do they include animals slaughtered abroad and then shipped to the US, even as they do include those slaughtered here for sale abroad. Nevertheless, they provide a picture of the slaughter industry in this country. The 2010 slaughter included:
23,627,000 ducks
35,330,800 cattle
110,367,000 pigs
242,619,000 turkeys
8,790,478,000 chickens
7.3 billion fish
12 billion shellfish
These add up to 29 billion animals slaughtered for food in the US in 2010. Slaughter totals have not seen the same downward trend, as increasing exports have made up for decreases in domestic consumption.
Calculated by Noam Mohr,, Jan 2011