The About Simple Ways blog notes a recent Japanese study which says eating a pound of beef is worse for the environment than “driving your car for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home.”
This study was also pointed to by the NewScientist.com news service:
A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.
This is among the conclusions of a study by Akifumi Ogino of the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and colleagues, which has assessed the effects of beef production on global warming, water acidification and eutrophication, and energy consumption.
In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.
NewScientist goes on to say, “Most of the greenhouse gas emissions are in the form of methane released from the animals’ digestive systems, while the acid and fertilising substances come primarily from their waste. Over two-thirds of the energy goes towards producing and transporting the animals’ feed.”
If every Canadian citizen ate just one meal a week that consisted of locally and organically raised meats and produce we would reduce our oil consumption by 5.7 million barrels of oil a year! Each food item in a typical meal has traveled an average of 1500 miles.
Farmers are working to reduce this as much as they can. For example, a recent article in New Zealand’s Farm News notes that “a Swedish study in 2003 suggested that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 percent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 per cent less energy.”
But even with all this research on feeding practice, the simplest approach may be a bit more obvious:
“Everybody is trying to come up with different ways to reduce carbon footprints,” says Su Taylor of the Vegetarian Society in the UK: “But one of the easiest things you can do is to stop eating meat.”
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