One of the most contentious and hotly debated topics in today’s society is whether or not meat consumption should be banned. Many people argue that eating meat raises a person’s carbon footprint, which worsens climate change. On the other hand, some say that eating meat is necessary to maintain key nutrients such as iron in one’s diet. What are your thoughts on this? Is meat – good or bad?
The Facts on Meat Consumption
A recent paper in Environmental Science and Technology by two Harvard scientists looked at the carbon footprint of different kinds of meat. The article (paywall) states:
“In total, the ecosystem services that can be provided by livestock and the process of converting livestock into meat yield about 2.5 gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year, which is below 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions from all sources. Meats consumed in the United States account for about 12% of this total, or about 310 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
All in all, the research showed that, from a carbon perspective, it’s a net negative to eat red meat and dairy products.
Meat Consumption and the Environment
According to the United Nations, raising livestock causes 15 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The primary source of these emissions are the processes of turning the livestock products into food and the production of their feed. One of the most common ways meat production raises its carbon footprint is through the massive amount of energy required for the animals to become fattened and for them to be slaughtered. Although cattle may be some of the most environmentally harmful of all the meat animals, the relationship between a person’s carbon footprint and their eating habits is also a matter of perspective. For example, some argue that the actions of a person’s food consumption are a matter of personal choice.
Let us know your thoughts on this topic! Is it possible to eat meat and still reduce our carbon footprint? Will anyone be able to win this debate?
Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.