Consciously limiting your carbon footprint has become quite trendy among many young, urban Americans. It’s a practice I whole-heartedly support – it’s just that their ideas to achieve their goal are often way off the mark. This week produced another round of anti-meat chatter with the release of the “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health
” by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington-based non-profit “organization that advocates on Capitol Hill for health-protective and subsidy-shifting policies.”
The research by EWG examined every stage of food production, processing, consumption and waste disposal, and determined that if everyone in the U.S. eliminated meat and cheese from their diet just one day a week for a year, “the effect on greenhouse gas emissions would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”
found that traditionally raised lamb has the worst carbon footprint, followed by beef, cheese, pork and fish. EWG also made recommendations for people who choose not to give up eating meat. For beef eaters the suggestion is to eat grass-fed beef because it is “lean and healthiest.” It was also recommended that you choose “certified humane.”
From agriculture’s perspective, the “Meat Eater’s Guide” provides plenty of fodder for criticism. For instance, the report criticizes both antibiotic and hormone use by livestock feeders with unproven claims about the safety of those products. It’s also suggested that “pasture raised” animals are treated more “humanely” than traditionally raised livestock.