Meat production takes a toll on the environment and more and more consumers are looking for ways to reduce their meat consumption or to find an eco-friendlier alternative. For some, this means abandoning meat altogether, but that’s a drastic measure that would hurt the economy.
There are ways to still continue with meat consumption but to introduce policies that will help you do that in an eco-friendlier, sustainable and responsible way. This will limit your options somewhat but it shouldn’t pose too much of trouble.
The first thing to consider is where you buy your food instead of focusing on what meat and from whom you’re buying. That’s because there’s one contribution to overall pollution that comes from farms and that’s too often overlooked. It’s about moving the goods from one place to another.
This can be mitigated greatly simply by making sure you only buy local meats instead of ordering them to be delivered. This means you can’t buy in most supermarkets, unless they specify that they are locally sources. Additional benefit here comes from knowing your suppliers.
Grazing is another rather damaging practice and one that has a long term and damaging effect on the environment. You should try to figure out how your cattle is grazed and what kind of policies are used by the farmer to make sure that the grazing isn’t too damaging to the soil.
The key to environmentally friendly grazing is the rotation. That means that not all of the cattle grazes at the same piece of land at all times. That means that the soil won’t be overworked and overused and thus damaged over time. This may lead to a bit higher price of meat overall, since the resources used to feed the cattle are purposely limited.
Once you know where your meat is coming from and how the animals are fed you should go into what kind of meat you’re eating. It’s important to add variety not only because of your health and for making your diet more interesting, but also in terms of how they affect the environment.
Lamb is one of the most popular meats in the US and that’s because it’s so tender, juicy and so versatile in terms of how it can be cooked. However, it’s also the meat with the biggest carbon emission rate of them all.
Even before beginning its journey to our supermarkets, lamb produces an average of 20.44 kg of C02 emissions per kg of product.
Beef is also a popular meat and one that can be prepared by both a novice cook and a professional chef. It won’t be the same but you can give it a pretty good go when you have enough experience and practice. It’s also a meat that produces quite a lot of carbon per pound.
On average beef produces 5 kg fewer C02 emissions per kg than lamb but over three times more than pork. Cattle farming is also damaging in a variety of different ways since, it requires quite a lot of water and it pollutes a lot of it as well.
Pork is a better option when it comes to how much it adds to the overall carbon footprint. This still doesn’t mean that it’s eco-friendly, just that it is more so than the other options. 4.62 kg of CO2 per kg comes from pig farming.
If you’re purchasing processed meat there’s additional considerations to be made that come from the fact that there are places where this can be done and that means that you’re adding to the carbon footprint via transportation.
It’s essential to add fish to your diet and salmon is probably the best way to go in terms of the health benefits. However, that would be too expensive for most budgets, if the salmon is caught in the wild. However, when the salmon is farmed, the price goes down and the effect on the environment goes up.
Salmon farms are also energy intensive and produce 4.14 kg of C02 per kg of salmon. They are also rather damaging to the sea life in general.
Turkey and chicken
Poultry is the most common meat used in most households and it’s because they are really inexpensive to produce on a mass scale and that’s how they are grown and fed. They also add the least to the carbon footprint in comparison to other meats on our list and the ones that are commonly used. Chicken produces 2.33 kg of C02 per kg of meat before transport and processing.
There are other considerations to be made however, since there are humanitarian issues to take into account since poultry isn’t produced in a human way when it’s done on a mass scale.