|2011 Meat Eater's Guide from the Environmental Working Group|
Do you eat meat and dairy? Do you eat it occasionally, or for every meal? Where does your meat come from?
The 2011 Meat Eater's Guide from the Environmental Working Group examines the impact of meat and dairy production on the environment and provides guidelines on what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and everyone seems to have a different opinion; the Environmental Working Group's is just one perspective. A quick internet search reveals organizations criticizing the EWG... and organizations criticizing those organizations! The dairy council, beef council and tobacco industry are not pleased with the EWG's opinion, and many call it flat out wrong.
So, assuming you choose to accept the Environmental Working Group's findings, do you need to become a vegetarian? In my opinion, no. You can eat less, and in this country of plenty it turns out we need to eat less of just about everything. Why not eat less of those foods that appear to damage the environment and our health?
The bottom line seems to be this: eat meat and dairy, but perhaps eat a little less, and choose grass-fed and organic over CAFO-raised animals. (CAFO: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or industrial factory farms)
Here are the highlights for those of you who want them:
- Over one year, if everyone in the US ate no meat or dairy 1 day a week, it would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
- Production of lamb, beef and cheese generates the most greenhouse gases. In fact, beef production creates 13 times the emissions of vegetarian protein sources, such as lentils and beans.
- Cheese, pound for pound, created the third highest greenhouse emissions, so reducing meat consumption isn't enough.
- Humans are exposed to toxins, hormones and antibiotics through meat and dairy consumption, which are associated with cancer and antibiotic resistant infections.
- High red meat consumption is associated with cancer and heart disease.
What can you do with this info? Here are three additional suggestions:
- Use dairy as a garnish rather than a main dish and switch from cow's milk to rice, almond or soy milk for your morning breakfast and latte.
- Eat meat for one meal a day instead of all three. Eat no more than four ounces at a sitting, and make up the difference in calories with legumes, veggies and nuts.
- Purchase grass-fed meat and dairy.
If you have the opportunity to play around on the 2011 Meat Eater's Guide website, they've created some amazing graphics to illustrate exactly how greenhouse emissions are created and what you can do to improve your carbon footprint. Check it out, come back here, and let me know what you're going to do with the information--if anything!