Reduce meat consumption

meat consumption

Meat consumption causes large greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change. The richer a society is, the more meat it eats. Per capita meat consumption has almost doubled since 1960, from 23,1 kilograms per year to 69,5 kilograms in 2022, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). However, in developing countries the average meat consumption is 27,6 kilograms. Reduce meat consumption can help reduce your carbon footprint.

In this article we are going to tell you how meat consumption affects climate change and how reducing meat consumption positively affects reducing the carbon footprint.

Greenhouse gas emissions from meat consumption

reduce meat consumption climate change

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock farming is responsible for 14,5% of all greenhouse gas emissions emitted by humans. In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), climate-damaging gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are also emitted. Methane is believed to have a climate impact 25 times greater than carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide is even 300 times greater.

Most emissions from the livestock industry They are produced during feed production (58%) and during fermentation during the digestion of the animals themselves (31%).. Livestock farming accounts for approximately 15% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Its share is almost as large as that of world transportation.

Won't eating meat affect climate change?

reduce meat consumption

Examining greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry alone does not answer this question because they cannot be attributed solely to meat consumption. As a 2021 study published in the journal Nature Food suggests, It is necessary to compare the emissions balances of various plant and animal foods.

The study concluded that plant-based foods account for only 29% of greenhouse gas emissions released during food production. Instead, 57% is due to the breeding and raising of cattle, pigs and other farm animals, including feed production. As a result, beef production alone accounts for about a quarter of all global emissions from food production. But research shows that rice farming is the second biggest polluter, accounting for around 12 percent, ahead of other meats such as pork, poultry and sheep, and dairy production.

However, the study only looked at the total global emissions of different foods individually. Not all meat consumption is equal. For example, by eating poultry instead of beef, you can already improve your personal carbon footprint. But more detailed comparisons also show that almost all foods of plant origin have a better balance of emissions than all foods of animal origin.

Four tons of greenhouse gas emissions: This is the amount of emissions caused by a person living in India for two years and four months. In Ethiopia, 31 people produce as much greenhouse gases as an American just by eating meat.

Reduce meat consumption

less meat

The United States, Mexico, Germany and Canada have unveiled climate strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including:

  • Restrictive and educational actions.
  • They are not considering the transition to a sustainable and healthy diet.
  • Regulatory measures related to the reduction of emissions in the meat industry.

Proposals as measures related to the indirect reduction of gases produced by livestock farming include:

  • Forest repopulation
  • Forestation and implementation of agroforestry.
  • Application of new cultivation techniques.
  • Changes in the animals' diet.
  • Biomass utilization
  • Minimize carbon losses from natural disasters

Each country hopes to achieve different goals in its climate change strategy by 2050. The United States' goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared to 2005. Mexico wants to reduce its emissions by 50% compared to the year 2000 and Germany aspires to be emissions neutral. Canada has committed to an 80% reduction compared to 2005 levels.

According to research by experts at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, it is necessary to reduce the consumption of ruminant meat (beef and lamb) by 50% or more to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement.

Another study carried out by scientists at the University of Cambridge, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, concluded that a maximum of 170 grams of red meat and five eggs per week should be consumed to meet the goal of reducing gas emissions by 2050.

A team of researchers at the Oxford Martin School used computer simulation models to predict that emissions associated with food production would be reduced by 63% if the entire planet became vegetarian, and by 70% if a diet was adopted. vegan.

The World Health Organization also supports reducing meat consumption for health reasons and recommends eating up to 500 grams of red meat per week and avoiding processed meat as it increases the risk of cancer.

Meat industry emissions

The meat industry is one of the industries with the greatest impact on climate change. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it emits more greenhouse gases than the entire world's transportation industry combined. 14,5% of emissions).

The Worldwatch Institute report, based on FAO statistics, shows that livestock farming uses more than 30 percent of the land area, mainly for pasture, and 70 percent of agricultural land. More than 15.000 liters of water are needed to produce 1 kilogram of beef, about 8.000 liters of water to produce pork and more than 4.000 liters of water to produce chicken. A total of 20% of the water consumed on Earth is used for feed production.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global meat intake will increase by more than 28% between 2010 and 2020, milk intake will increase by more than 24% and egg intake will increase by more than 30%. The shocking figures reflect political apathy and social ignorance about the consumption of meat and its derivatives.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about the importance of reducing meat consumption to reduce your carbon footprint.


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