Climate Dieticians Push Americans To Cut Beef For The Sake Of The Planet

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 23, 2024 - 02:00 AM

Authored by Eric Worrall via,

“… Replacing beef with a different protein — even for just one meal — can cut the emissions footprint of a person’s diet that day by as much as half. …”

One Simple Change to Reduce Your Climate Impact? Swap Out Beef

Replacing beef with a different protein — even for just one meal — can cut the emissions footprint of a person’s diet that day by as much as half. 

By Zahra Hirji
21 February 2024 at 20:00 GMT+10

Next time you’re out for lunch, try playing a little game: Without looking it up, can you find the most and least climate-friendly options on the menu?

Unlike a meal’s price, the greenhouse-gas footprint of food isn’t typically spelled out. But you don’t need to ask a climate scientist to find out either. There’s one simple trick for identifying the highest impact item on almost any menu: If there’s beef, that’s probably it.

“You don’t have to become a vegan to have a big impact on your carbon footprint,” says Diego Rose, a professor and director of the nutrition program at Tulane University. “You just have to swap out beef.”

Beef’s footprint is especially outsized. For one, there are roughly 1.5 billion cows on the planet. About 13 million square kilometers (3.2 billion acres) of land is used to raise all that cattle, along with buffalo, and their food — one-quarter of all land used for agriculture, according to a 2017 paper in Global Food Security. Then there’s the methane. Cows and other ruminants have a unique digestive system that allows them to turn grass into fuel, but in the process their special gut bacteria releases methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the short term.

“In the US, most of us eat more beef than what’s considered healthy for us,” says Stephanie Roe, a climate and energy lead scientist at the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund. “So that’s low-hanging fruit because then we can improve our health outcomes in addition to environmental ones.”

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I have a big problem with the anti-beef push.

There is a reason cowboys herded cows in the old West, and why the African Maasai and many other peoples still do, and why beef cattle are chosen when other crops would in theory produce a much higher yield per acre.

Cattle can be raised in harsh regions which are far too unforgiving for other farm produce.

The suggestion raising beef is taking far more land than other food production, with the implicit suggestion that land dedicated to beef production could be repurposed for other produce, in my opinion verges on a lie by omission. I’m sure some cattle land could be used for other purposes, but a lot of it couldn’t.

In places where beef production is the only option, abandoning beef would mean abandoning food – dramatically reducing the total food available for people to eat.

Even in places where other food choices are available, the anti-beef push could impact food supplies. Stopping beef production would not automatically equate to increased production of other food.

In a world where just under 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, attacking the supply of food in the name of the alleged climate emergency in my opinion should be viewed as a crime against humanity.