The Ecological Hoofprint

The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock

Tony Weis


This book explains how the phenomenal growth and industrialization of livestock production is a central part of the accelerating biophysical contradictions of industrial capitalist agriculture and of ongoing and future food crises.
The exploding global consumption of meat is implicated in momentous but greatly underappreciated problems, and industrial livestock production is the driving force behind soaring demand.

Tony Weis explains clearly why the growth and industrialization of livestock production is a central part of the accelerating biophysical contradictions of industrial capitalist agriculture.

The Ecological Hoofprint provides a rigorous and eye-opening way of understanding what this system means for the health of the planet, how it contributes to worsening human inequality, and how it constitutes a profound but invisible aspect of the violence of everyday life.

Author Bio

Tony Weis is an associate professor of geography at the University of Western Ontario. His research is broadly located at the intersection of political ecology and agrarian political economy. He is the author of The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming (Zed Books, 2007), and numerous articles and book chapters on environmental and development issues surrounding agriculture.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: meatification and why it matters
  • 1. Contextualizing the hoofprint: global environmental change and inequality
  • 2. The uneven geography of meat
  • 3. The industrial grain-oilseed-livestock complex
  • 4. Confronting the ecological hoofprint: towards a more sustainable, just, and humane world


'In The Ecological Hoofprint Weis puts meat at the centre of global problems like climate change, poverty, workers' rights, and speciesism. Anyone seeking a just and sustainable world needs to consider his compelling argument that radical change must start by combating the meatification of the human diet.'
Peter Singer, Princeton University, author of Animal Liberation
'Tony Weis has a mind that spans a multitude of disciplines, from philosophy to international political economy, from ecology to biology. In The Ecological Hoofprint, he brings these considerable skills to craft a concise, readable, and important reading of today's meatified world. It's an analysis that couldn't be more timely nor more urgent.'
Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System

'With the metaphor of the ecological hoofprint Tony Weis sounds a clear warning about the perils of the rising global consumption of meat. The powerful message of this book is that ascending the animal protein ladder is a formula for deepening social inequalities and compounding ecological risk. With compelling detail the author demonstrates that meatification is an inefficient and potentially catastrophic use of planetary resources. This didactic book provides an unforgettable perspective on the illusion of identifying animal protein consumption with modern progress.'
Philip McMichael, Cornell University, author of Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective

'With Tony Weis's powerful insights, we see that humanity's sudden, catastrophic shift to meat-centric farming and eating - killing us and our planet - is neither inevitable nor progress. We learn we have real choice. Packed with startling facts and framed in a compelling narrative, The Ecological Hoofprint is a mighty motivator. Bravo!'
Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and co-founder of The Small Planet Institute

'Weis delivers a penetrating and systematic structural analysis of the global industrial feeds-livestock complex that reveals the extent to which Earth's resources are subsumed to the logic of cheap meat production. Insightful, accessible, compelling, this is a must read for scholars and students of the food system.'
Colin Sage, University College Cork, author of Environment and Food

'Weis provides an intellectually compelling argument against the industrial farming of livestock. While recognizing that increasing meat consumption is often viewed favorably - as evidence of the globalization of the Western diet - he carefully details the costs for human health, the environment, and the industrially reared animals. Weis calls for an urgent reappraisal of factory farming as a first step in reducing the ecological hoofprint on planet meat. It's a great book!'
Geoffrey Lawrence, The University of Queensland

'A must read if you want to understand the scale, inefficiency, and wide-ranging impact of the rapid meatification of diets since the mid-twentieth century. The number of slaughtered animals, the author notes, has rocketed from 8 billion to 64 billion in fifty years. The dynamic driving this ecologically damaging change, rightly argues Tony Weis, is an industrial grain-oilseed-livestock complex driven by the demands of capitalism to seek new means of increasing returns, which involves totally reorganizing nature.'
Geoff Tansey, co-author of The Food System - A Guide and member and trustee of The Food Ethics Council


Publication Date: 14 November 2013
200 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780320960
Hardback: 9781780320977
eBook ePub: 9781780320991
eBook PDF: 9781780320984
eBook Kindle: 9781780325064

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