South Africans eat a lot of meat. Each year we eat around 2.8 million pigs, 2.9 million cows, 6.8 million sheep, and over 1 billion chickens. The picturesque scene of farmed animals frolicking in the hills while eating the greenest grass and listening to Barry White is a bit of misnomer. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of animals are raised in intensive conditions while being fed a diet of maize, soy, and wheat – not leafy greens.
All these animals need food, water, and shelter – and when you are talking about over a billion animals there are a lot of needs to be catered for regardless of their hierarchy. The staple food of these animals is maize with about half of all crops going to farmed animals. Agriculture is the stumbling drunk at the bar who cannot get enough amber nectar to quench her thirst and our hunger for meat is egging her on to have another drink. Irrigating South African farms slurps up nearly 60% of all available water in the country; a tsunami compared to urban usage, which is a paltry (or poultry?) 25.1%. Mining and industry is a mere drop in the ocean at 5.7%.