If you're concerned about the environment, you might ask if you should keep eating meat. Food production has an influence on the environment since it uses water and land. As a result, consuming foods created with fewer resources (and thus do not significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions) is frequently considered to be beneficial for the environment.
Plant foods are often thought to be more environmentally friendly than meat and animal products, and vegan or vegetarian diets are frequently classified as sustainable. However, there are other factors to consider when assessing the environmental impact of meat. Indeed, there may be ways to eat meat more responsibly — and less of it — without fully giving it up.
Meat's Environmental Impact: The most environmentally friendly meat
Raising animals for sustenance necessitates a significant amount of land and water. It also adds to greenhouse gas emissions via livestock feed, dung, and methane exhaled through burping. In fact, cattle account for 14.5% of GGGE that contribute to climate change. In addition, industrial animal production causes deforestation, soil erosion, freshwater contamination, and air pollution.
Beef is claimed to have a higher environmental impact than dairy, pig, fish, eggs, or poultry. However, the environmental impact of these items varies depending on how they're produced.
Plant foods that are complete and minimally processed, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and olive oil, have the least environmental impact.
Still, comparing every animal and plant product is challenging. Certain plant meals, such as nuts and highly processed foods, have far greater environmental implications than other plant-based options.
When considering meat's ecological impact, it's also vital to evaluate the scale of the environmental impact of meat production — small farms versus feedlots — because there are many complexities in the dispute over livestock's role in climate change.
The Environmental Impact of Beef is Highlighted: The environmental impact of meat production
While the meat business consumes more resources ultimately contributes to more to climate change than plant foods, some environmental impact of meat production methods are most environmentally friendly meat compared to others. Furthermore, while beef is widely perceived as being bad for the environment compared to other meats, some studies suggest otherwise.
It has been demonstrated that feeding a certain variety of seaweed to dairy cows improves digestion and reduces methane emissions by up to 60%. Seaweed supplements may reduce methane emissions by up to 80% in beef cattle.
According to current studies, beef production in the United States accounts for 3.7% of national greenhouse gas emissions and less than 0.5% of global emissions. The agriculture business, as a whole, accounts for 10% of US emissions, whereas transportation accounts for 29%.
Cattle Management Environmental Benefits
Although beef cattle farming produces more greenhouse gases than poultry, pork, or dairy, the majority of cattle in the United States are reared on terrain that is unsuitable for growing vegetables and other plant foods. Using this property to farm meat could be a cost-effective solution to feed people.
Beef and other meats also provide health benefits. Meat is high in protein and includes important micronutrients. Many communities in the United States and around the world rely on livestock for food and employment.
The Environmental impact of meat production…
Furthermore, some people may not have access to nutritionally adequate plant-based diets, so reducing meat consumption may impair their nutrition and livelihood. Meat consumption may also be a component of their culture or traditions.
Finally, well-managed cattle can contribute to the health of the soil and land. Proper grazing procedures may make land more flood-resistant and preserve carbon in the soil rather than discharged into the atmosphere. Grazing cows may also help to avoid wildfires by reducing the amount of grass that can catch fire.
CAFOs in the Spotlight
All food production has some environmental impact, which varies greatly depending on the method of production. CAFOs, often known as feedlots in the beef sector, have a wide range of negative environmental consequences.
CAFO animals are confined in close quarters and are not allowed to graze. Their manure not only pollutes the surrounding land, water, and air, but the overcrowding also serves as a breeding ground for disease and infection that can transfer to humans. Grass-fed, grass-finished, and pasture-raised meats are typically thought to be more environmentally friendly than meat from CAFOs and feedlots.
Farmers who raise this meat strive to restore ecosystems and limit environmental impacts on soil and water. They, for example, manage waste more effectively than CAFOs and may employ grazing strategies that produce healthy, flood-resistant land. Nonetheless, others argue that grass-fed and -finished beef may emit more greenhouse gases than other types.
Grass-fed cows live longer than feedlot cows, generating more methane through burp over their lifetime. Furthermore, as more people opt to eat grass-fed beef, the quantity of cattle and are required to produce this meat may increase. However, according to other research, the additional emissions are countered by the carbon that grazing cows sequester in the soil.
How to Eat Meat in a More Sustainable Way: The most environmentally friendly meat
The Environmental impact of meat production… It is difficult to assess the environmental impact of meat. While some environmentalists advise for avoiding all meat and animal products in order to address climate change, many additional factors justify including animal products in eco friendly meat.
In general, eating more whole, less processed plant foods is a positive move. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains are examples of these foods. Limiting overall meat consumption and selecting responsibly reared animal products are also beneficial.
Here are some suggestions for including meat in an eco friendly meat.
Choose Grass-Fed or Pasture-Raised Meats
Before purchasing meat, read the label and minimize or avoid items raised in a CAFO or feedlot. If the label does not state grass-fed or pasture-raised, it was most likely reared in a CAFO.
If you have the opportunity to speak directly with the farmer, such as at a farmers market, you might inquire about the sustainable measures he or she uses. Although grass-fed or pasture-raised cows emit more methane over their lives than conventionally grown cattle, the overall impact on the local ecology is substantially lower – and possibly even favorable.
Purchase a Meat Share
Local farms may offer meat shares, which allow you to buy a package of sustainably raised meat and pick it up every week, month, or quarter.
Reduce your Meat Consumption
Small amounts of meat, such as a garnish, may help you reduce your overall intake. Experiment with meals that are mostly plant-based but contain a tiny quantity of meat, such as salads that contain beans as the main protein source and a few slices of chicken or stir-fries with lots of veggies and grains and a small bit of beef.
Set a reasonable aim for minimizing your meat consumption.
Don't try to cut out all of the meat at once. Instead, consider the following ideas to consume less meat without completely eliminating it from your diet:
- Try Meatless Monday, an international movement that encourages individuals to go meatless on Mondays in order to reduce their meat consumption.
- Only eat meat at dinner.
- Make entirely plant-based lunches.
- Choose an option that works for you and proceed from there.
Distribute One Serving of Meat Among Various Recipes
You can include minimal amounts of meat into a variety of recipes without it taking center stage. 1 pound (454 grams) of ground beef, for example, can be used to make burgers, tacos, and soups.
You can prepare burger patties using beans, whole grain, and a tiny amount of beef, then add half mushrooms and half beef to your favorite taco recipe. Finally, simmer the remaining meat in a bean-based chili.
Concentrate on Adding Additional Plant Items to Your Diet
The Environmental impact of meat production… If you're having trouble reducing your meat consumption, possibly owing to convenience or habit, focus on new meals you can try instead.
Look for plant-forward recipes on food blogs and in cookbooks, and make it a point to try a different meal each week. If you've never had lentils before, try dal or lentil-heavy grain bowls. Lentils can also be made into meatless “meatloaf” or stuffed bell peppers.
Meat, like all foods, requires resources to produce. While it has a greater environmental impact than plant meals, the overall picture is more nuanced. CAFO-raised animals have a considerably greater impact on land, water, air, nearby communities, and global warming than pasture-raised and grass-fed animals. Growing food is typically thought to be more environmentally beneficial.
Takeaway – The most environmentally friendly meat
If you want to adopt an eco friendly meat diet, try limiting your meat consumption and eating more whole, minimally processed plant foods. Choose pasture-grown, grass-fed, or sustainably raised meat whenever possible. You can also get a nutrition coach app Australia to monitor your food intake.