Meat You Need to Think About

Whenever we think about reducing our carbon footprint we immediately think about the fuel we burn to heat our home or how we get to work, but if we really consider all the factors that make up our effect on the earth what we eat also plays a big part. Being eco-friendly is a choice and we have to know where our food comes from to make the choices that make a difference. Sometimes the obvious green choice is not in actual fact a green choice.

One study of New Zealand lamb showed that it was more eco-friendly to ship lamb 18,000 km to the UK that it was for the UK to produce its own lamb. And not just a little bit, shipping the lamb produced less than one quarter of the greenhouse gasses than the local production. This fly’s in the face of current earth friendly thinking, so how can shipping vast distances ever be good for the environment? It is easy to explain by looking at the activities that are needed to support the production of the meat.

By calculating the cost in carbon emission of the grain that is needed to feed the lambs in the UK they, and other farm activities, accounted for 80%of the total greenhouse gasses produced by the meat. The New Zealand lambs were grazed on grass that grew naturally and were only responsible for 5% of the overall greenhouse gases. Growing feed for livestock is a very inefficient process. For beef cattle it takes 5-7 kilos of grain to produce one kilo of beef, and the grain uses considerable water and energy to grow, process and transport. These are the things that you need to consider so that you can make the choices that reduce climate change.

Producing meat is one of the major contributors to climate change. The latest estimates are that 70% of of all agricultural land is linked to producing meat, and that land occupies 30% of the land surface of the planet. Meat is consumed in huge quantities and this means that there are huge quantities of animals on the planet that produce huge quantities of methane and nitrous oxide. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that producing meat for consumption is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gasses.

There are many ways you can lower your carbon footprint by the way you choose and eat meat.

  • Chose certified organic meat from a local producer. Get to know what you are eating and where your food comes from and pick produce that is grown ethically as its good for you and good for the planet.
  • Choose a vegetarian option at least once a week. Increase this as you find recipes you enjoy.
  • Read the labels when you shop so you know what is in what you eat.
  • Consider grouping together with friends and ‘buying’ your own animal. Some local organic producers will allow you to buy an animal, raise it for you for a fee, then you can have it prepared by a local butcher and divided between you.

Your judgment is only as good as your information, so now is the time to get the best information about what is on your table, and ultimately ends up in your mouth.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!