Giving up beef could reduce carbon footprint ‘more than giving up cars’

I recently blogged on why I’ve stopped eating beef - now a new study has found giving up the meat could reduce carbon footprints more than giving up cars.

The reaction to my blog was fascinating, and I really appreciated reading all of your own views, ranging from those who have long been vegetarians and vegans to those who couldn’t comprehend giving up burgers.

For the latter, it may be worth reading a New York Times opinion piece from Mark Bittman about the “true costs” of a burger. Citing his research, he notes that buying this food has a far greater cost to the world than the amount of money you hand over.

He said: “The products of industrial food consumption have externalities that would be lessened by a system that makes as its primary goal the links among nutrition, fairness and sustainability.”

Meanwhile, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found beef production results in five times more climate-warming emissions than pork or chicken – and 11 times more than potatoes, wheat and rice.

The beef production process also needs 28 times more land to produce than chicken or pork, and 160 times more land.

Prof Tim Benton, from the University of Leeds, commented in The Guardian: “The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat.”

Meanwhile, a different UK-based survey by the University of Oxford found that meat-rich cause double the climate-warming emissions of vegetarian diets.

While changing diet from eating lots of meat to none could be difficult, I have been surprised how easy it has been to give up beef. I’m now up to six months and genuinely haven’t missed it at all. It is unrealistic to expect the majority of people to give up their cars, but giving up beef could lead to a healthier population and a healthier environment.

Why not give it a go for a month? I would love to find out how easy or difficult other people find giving up beef. Let us know below or on social, using the hashtag #giveupbeef.


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