Meat production takes a heavy toll on the environment, and an increasing number of consumers are looking for ways to reduce their meat consumption in favour of eco-friendly alternatives. For some this means abandoning meat altogether, but such a drastic measure would ultimately damage the economy if enacted on a large scale.
There are, however, ways to responsibly and sustainably consume meat. Read on to learn more.
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 a rather damaging practise, leaving long-term effects on the environment. You should try to figure out how the cattle you consume is grazed, and what policies are enacted by farmers to make sure the soil doesn’t sustain significant damage. Rotation is key to environmentally-friendly grazing. This means that not all cattle grazes the same piece of land at all times. This means the soil won’t be overworked, thus reducing environmental impact. However, this may lead to a higher price of meat, as resources used to feed the cattle become purposefully limited.
Once you know where your meat is coming from and how the animals are fed, you should learn more about the kinds of meat you consume. Variety is important for your health, but it can also make a difference in environmental impact.
Lamb is one of the most popular meats in the US, due to its tender and juicy quality and the versatility with which it can be cooked. Unfortunately, production of lamb is responsible for the highest carbon emission rates of any type of meat. On average, lamb production is responsible for around 20.44 kg of C02 emissions, per kg of product.
Beef is another popular meat, one that can be prepared by novice cooks and professionals alike. It’s also a meat that produces a fair amount of carbon per pound. On average, beef produces 5kg fewer C02 emissions per kg than lamb, but over three times more than pork.
Pork is a better option when it comes to overall carbon footprint, but this alone doesn’t make it eco-friendly. 4.62 kg of C02 per kg comes from pig farming on average. If you purchase processed meat, additional considerations must be made due to transportation, adding to the carbon footprint.
Fish is an essential dietary staple, and salmon is an excellent choice in terms of health benefits. However, salmon tends to be quite expensive. When farmed the price goes down, but the effects on the environment go up. Salmon farms are energy-intensive, producing 4.14 kg of C02 per kg of salmon. They are also rather damaging to sea life in general.
Turkey and Chicken
Poultry is the most common meat for most households, as they are inexpensive to produce on a mass scale. They add the least amount of carbon in comparison to other meats on our list, producing an average of 2.33 kg of C02 per kg of meat, before factoring in elements such as transportation and processing. However, issues of inhumane practises must be taken into account, particularly when poultry is produced on a mass scale.
Choosing ‘eco-friendly’ meat is never a simple task, but a little research can go a long way in aiding your decisions.