Why Reducing Meat Will Reduce Carbon Footprint

Meatless Mondays, some might consider it a tough way to start the work week.Cattle

But when you consider the amount of greenhouse gases that come from cow burps and manure, you will definitely reconsider what and how much meat you are putting into your mouth.

Green Blizzard offers hundreds of suggestions on how to reduce the amount of CO2 that you emit, but in this case, its the partner in climate change crime – Methane!

By understanding both the personal and environmental benefits, it might be a bit more palatable.

Here’s one of Green Blizzard’s mort sincere green living tips.

Reducing meat in your diet surprisingly is one most cost effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint, or more accurately your greenhouse gas footprint.

Why Reducing Meat Will Reduce Carbon Footprint

It doesn’t require any upfront financial investment, no additional time, just a little fore-thought and willingness to make an adjustment.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has an established non-profit initiative called Meatless Mondays.  Its goal is to reduce meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal and planetary health.
The Meatless Monday website provides the rationale, benefits, and recipes to help even the most loyal carnivore, more easily make this transition.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow.

Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.

MINIMIZE WATER USAGE – The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. Almost  2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.   With 7.5 gallons of water in one cubic foot, that’s enough water to fill a 6′ x 7′ room – floor to ceiling.  Just for a pound of beef.   Whereas, soy tofu, a protein rich alternative, produced in California, requires only 220 gallons of water per pound.

REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand from growing our foods.

  • Cow Burbs – 37% of all human induced methane – which is 23x global warming potential (GWP) compared to CO2 is caused by the cows digestion – burps.

  • Cow Manure – 65% of all human induced nitrous oxide  which is 296x the global warming potential GWP of CO2 – comes from the manure.  Plus significant amounts of ammonia

MEAT PRODUCTION generates generous amounts of the four main greenhouse gases.  According to a UN report, meat accounts for these four main gas house global emissions  

BEYOND GREENHOUSE GAS OUTPUT – there’s the impact to the land.  Grazing land now accounts for 30% of the earth entire land surface and it takes 33% of the arable land to produce the crops to feed the livestock.  Grazing lands are degraded by over-grazing, compaction, and erosion.This is one of the smallest investments/changes you can make that will have the greatest carbon footprint impact.  Americans have been schooled over the last few decades that we need meat potein every day, every meal.   Our forefathers did not have this same intensive meat protein rich diet.  Give it some consideration today, not only for your health, your families health, or your wallet, but as a really effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.  

Editor’s picks on other Green Blizzard articles that you will enjoy:  Local Produce,  Aqua Culture Causing Carbon RipplesBiodegradable Utensils.


About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.