Would Going Vegetarian Actually Help California Battle The Drought?

Emilio Cogliani

You can’t taste it, but a whole lot of water went into producing that hamburger.

As Californians cut residential water use by 25 percent under Gov. Jerry Brown’s unprecedented mandatory restrictions, pressure on the drought-stricken state’s water resources continues to come from its robust agriculture industry, which accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s total water consumption.

Several outlets this week, including the Los Angeles Times, Quartz and KQED, shared data on how much water is required to produce different agricultural products. Meat is by far the biggest water hog, a 2012 study on water footprints published in the journal Ecosystems found. A pound of beef, for example, requires 1,847 gallons of water to produce.

But would going vegan, vegetarian or “reducetarian” help California as it weathers its worst drought in 1,200 years?

In short, not really, one expert said.

Newsha Ajami…

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