In order to reduce the pressure on the world’s water resource associated with their consumption pattern, individuals have the option of shifting from a meat-rich to a vegetarian diet. The water footprint of an individual consumer depends to a large extent on the type of diet of the individual. Meat-based diets have a larger water footprint compared to a vegetarian diet. The average USA citizen consumes almost four times the amount of protein compared to the global average (FAO, 2009). About 63% of the daily protein intake comes from animal based products. This high level of consumption of animal-based products is directly reflected in the relative large water footprint of the average American citizen (Hoekstra and Chapagain, 2007). Replacing 50% of all animal products by an equivalent amount of high nutritious crop products such as pulses, groundnuts and potatoes will result [in] a 30% reduction of the food-related water footprint. A vegetarian diet compared with the average current per capita food intake in the USA can reduce the water footprint of an individual by as much as 58%.
The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products.” M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra. Institute for Water Education. University of Twente (The Netherlands). Dec. 2010. pp. 29.