Is a no meat diet really better for the environment?
As we become more environmentally conscious, the question of what diets help reduce our carbon footprint is a necessary one for us to think about.
The B.B gals are all about healthy living and our office consists of a bunch of vegetarians, pescatarians and vegans.
I am the resident carnivore in the group.
This research was something I desperately didn’t want to do in fear that I would have to give up my precious steak: Alas, my worst fears were realised.
First, I looked a UK study from a bunch of nutritionists at the University of Aberdeen who were testing to see whether people could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eating a ‘healthy’ diet.
The nutritionists sorted through 82 food groups to identify what foods we should be eating if we want to reduce greenhouse emissions.
The seven foods the researchers concluded were best for the environment: pasta, peas, fried onion, brassicas (veggies such as cabbages, broccoli and turnips), sesame seeds, dry wholegrain breakfast cereal and (surprisingly) lollies.
There’s a very obvious food group missing: meat,
This does not bode well for me.
The World Resources Institute found that today beef causes around 50 times the greenhouse gas emissions of beans and grains.
Cows also require several times more water for farmers than a crop of beans or grains.
And as the world relies on a meat-heavy Western diet, this number will only increase.
I can hear the “I told you so’s” from all the vegetarians and vegans as I’m writing this, but hold your horses, because vegetarianism has its downsides too.
Just like meat, cheese is high in saturated fats, and a cheese-heavy diet could be just as bad for you as a meat-heavy diet.
On top of this, red meat does provide our bodies with the iron and vitamin B12 that we need as our bodies are often low in these vital nutrients.
And then there is the little factor of grasslands being among the largest ecosystems in the world and contributing to the livelihoods of more than 800 million people.
The land on which beef is farmed makes up a whopping 70% of the worlds ENTIRE agricultural land.
And other animals, such as chickens and pigs, don’t have the same environmental impact that beef does – as they do not produce methane.
Long story short: meat isn’t all bad for you.
BUT a meat-heavy diet is proving not to be sustainable and we need to start making an effort to reduce our carbon footprint.
Have a couple of meat-free nights a week, and maybe have some chicken or pork instead of beef.