Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, says expert

 Beef production results in five more climate-warming emissions than chicken or pork. Photograph: Alamy

Beef production results in five more climate-warming emissions than chicken or pork. Photograph: Alamy

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,” Benton said. “Another recent study implies the single biggest intervention to free up calories that could be used to feed people would be not to use grains for beef production in the US.” However, he said the subject was always controversial: “This opens a real can of worms.”

Prof Mark Sutton, at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “Governments should consider these messages carefully if they want to improve overall production efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts. But the message for the consumer is even stronger. Avoiding excessive meat consumption, especially beef, is good for the environment.”

He said: “The US and Europe alike are using so much of their land in highly inefficient livestock farming systems, while so much good quality cropland is being used to grow animal feeds rather than human food.”

Separately, a second study of tens of thousands of British people’s daily eating habits shows that meat lovers’ diets cause double the climate-warming emissions of vegetarian diets.

The study of British people’s diets was conducted by University of Oxford scientists and found that meat-rich diets – defined as more than 100g per day – 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.

Read the full article here.

Be sure to also check out ACT’s work on how crops and food supplies will be affected by climate change here in Canada. With the combined pressures of climate change and a growing population, finding ways to feed ourselves sustainably is a hot topic in climate change work right now.




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