Jun 17 2018

Study – Cut down on meat, cut down on emissions

Published by at 1:22 pm under Damngerous Chemicals

Cut down on meat, cut down on emissions.
Decreasing the demand for meat may be the answer to environmental issues caused by meat production in our country.

Happy Fathers Day to the many wonderful fathers out there!  Fathers play such an important role in the upbringing of healthy, responsible children. Dads teach us things that only a man can. They take us to the ball field, cut the grass, fixing the broken car and teach us right from wrong and to stretch our limits. Thank you for your important role in raising your children and leading your family. We hope you enjoy your day!

There is another role men often assume and that is of “grill master”.  And here comes the segue to health. Many men love grilling steaks, and other meats and have this skill honed to perfection. But while  the steaks and meat coming off the grill may be delicious, we are finding more and more that we should be enjoying them in limited amounts. Meat, especially red meat, is doing us more harm than good, not only to our bodies but also our environment. So while I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, I thought this might be a good day to bring awareness to this problem that some scientists worry could have devastating effects on our planet.

The Environmental Working Group and the US Department of Agriculture have combined forces to explore both the impact that meat has on our diets and the environment at the same time. They are not advocating that people give up meat entirely, but they venture to suggest that by even giving it up one day a week, it could have monumental positive impact not just on our health but on the environment.  Approximately 40% of the world’s land surface is used to raise food to keep the world’s population of 7 billion people fed. About 30% of the world’s ice free surface is used to raise food such as grains, fruits and vegetables to feed the livestock that we eventually eat. “There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock….”, according to this study.1,2)*

The EWG released the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health, which is a comprehensive breakdown of both the health effects and the environmental footprint of our food choices. It puts into real life terms how our food choices affect the environment. You can compare your food choices with their impact on the world in terms you can understand, such as a driving the car analogy. For example “…if a family of four people skips steak one day a week [for a year], it’s like taking your car off the road for almost three months…”For the full report, see reference 3 below.(1,2)*

The EWG’s findings provided other revealing statistics. Did you know that beef produces twice the emissions of pork and four times the emissions as chicken? It also produces 13 times the emissions of  vegetable protein such as tofu, lentils and beans. And, lamb is the worst choice of all with 50% higher emissions than beef!(1,3)*

Food waste is a huge problem in our country as well, and with Americans throwing away approximately  20% of the meat we produce, we are creating a lot of carbon emissions for nothing.

 The USDA also released  findings pertaining to emissions as they relate to milk and cheese. They conducted a study of a single commercial dairy in Idaho that houses 10,000 milk cows. “…The facility is home to 20 open-lot pens, two milking parlors, a hospital barn, a maternity barn, a manure solid separator, a 25-acre wastewater storage pond, and a 25-acre compost yard..” Over a year’s span, investigators monitored carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and nitrous oxide emissions. This one dairy gave off “…3,575 pounds of ammonia, 33,092 pounds of methane, and 409 pounds of nitrous oxide per day…”  This is a concern, because this is just one day.  Multiply this by 365 days in a year and tens of thousands of dairy farms in the U.S., and we are looking at a lot of emissions!1*

The end game is that meat production is costing us, not only with the negative effects it has on our health if we eat too much, especially red meat, but on our planet. In addition to the emissions, there are the pesticides, fertilizers, fuel and water needed to produce the feed for the livestock.1*

I know this is not what many people want to hear, but sadly, it is something that if we don’t address, it could be our most destructive practice to the planet. As we discussed in our last blog, many people are not willing to give up meat entirely. But, if everyone would cut down on the amount they eat, and waste, we can make a dent in this problem. Additionally, choose producers who are using sustainable methods, and raising their cattle using means that are more environmentally friendly, such as grass fed and organic. As long as the demand remains high for meat, many producers have to resort to  a more efficient means of production, which is not good for the planet or our health. Consider being a “flexitarian” and only eat meat occasionally. It will have an impact for the better on our planet, your health and the animals who often sustain pretty nasty conditions. And as leaders of the family, fathers take the lead!(1,2,3)*

Healthiest wishes,





  1. http://science.time.com/2011/07/26/how-meat-and-dairy-are-hiking-your-carbon-footprint/
  2. http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/
  3. https://www.ewg.org/meateatersguide/

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