Estimates suggest that 120 million pigs and 30 million cows are killed in the United States each year for food. Of these animals, 99% are raised in factory farms, which are associated with zoonotic diseases and antibiotic resistance. Animal activist group World Animal Protection claims the number of animals killed each year could decrease, as more fast-food restaurants introduce plant-based options to their menus.
Currently, more than 26 national quick service restaurants offer some form of plant-based protein. Burger King notably rolled out the Impossible Whopper nationwide, and the Beyond Sausage Sandwich can now be found at over 9,000 Dunkin' stores.
World Animal Protection estimates that fast-food meat alternatives could spare 690,000 pigs and 257,000 cows each year. The organization says it arrived at this number by calculating per animal meat yield in conjunction with sales data. The estimate also takes into account a study that predicts that 90% of meat alternative purchases at fast-food restaurants are made by people who also buy animal protein.
Although 947,000 is a small number compared to the total amount of animals killed each year, World Animal Protection says it's a step in the right direction. The organization says the number of 'saved' animals can be expected to increase as more restaurants offer plant-based alternatives and extend that option to all of their restaurants nationwide.