We now have an increased understanding about how our daily lives impacts on the environment and new research reveals that eating less red meat would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars.
The considerable impact on the environment of meat production has been known but the research shows a new scale and scope of damage, particularly for beef. Red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in 5 times more climate-warming emissions.
When compared to other staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases.
Agriculture is a significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all emissions, half of which are from livestock and the huge amounts of grain and water needed to raise cattle is a concern to experts worried about feeding an extra 2 billion people by 2050.
“The big story is just how dramatically impactful beef is compared to all the others,” said Prof Gidon Eshel, at Bard College in New York state and who led the, 2014, research on beef’s impact.
The research analysed how much land, water and nitrogen fertiliser was needed to raise beef and compared this with poultry, pork, eggs and dairy produce. Beef had a far greater impact than all the others because cattle make far less efficient use of their feed.
Only a minute fraction of the food consumed by cattle goes into the bloodstream, so the bulk of the energy is lost. Feeding cattle on grain rather than grass exacerbates this inefficiency, and the study noted that even grass-fed cattle still have greater environmental footprints than other animal produce.
Separately, a second study of tens of thousands of British people’s daily eating habits shows that meat eaters diets cause double the climate emissions of vegetarian diets. (P Scarborough et al, 2014.)
The study was conducted by University of Oxford scientists and found that meat-rich diets resulted in 7.2kg of carbon dioxide emissions. In contrast, both vegetarian and fish-eating diets caused about 3.8kg of CO2 per day, while vegan diets produced only 2.9kg. The research analysed the food eaten by 30,000 meat eaters, 16,000 vegetarians, 8,000 fish eaters and 2,000 vegans.
The message is clear and succinctly put by Craig Bennett from Friends of the Earth. “The evidence is now very clear that eating less meat could be one of the quickest ways to reduce climate pollution. Reducing meat consumption will also be good for people’s health.”
Beef is both bad for our health and bad for the environment and we need to do more to consciously make the correlations between what we put in our mouths and the environment.
It is important we make the connections between what we put on our plates and the origins of the meat we eat. We need to think about saving our world. Future generations’ lives are depending on it. We must act now.
Source: The Guardian.com