The decrease in diet-related carbon emissions amounts to the equivalent of removing 39 million cars from the road.
There are many reasons why consumers might choose to reduce their consumption of meat products, primarily beef. Not only does excess consumption of meat increase one’s risk of developing diseases of affluence, such as diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer, the environment pays a huge price for the practices of factory farming. Fortunately, it seems this attitude is catching on in the United States.
According to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), beef consumption in the U.S. declined by nearly 20% between the years of 2005 and 2014. The decrease in diet-related carbon emissions amounts to the equivalent of removing 39 million cars from the road.
A reduced consumption of “milk, pork, shellfish, and high fructose corn syrup” was also reported by the NRDC. This accounts for emissions cuts equivalent to taking another 18 million cars off the road.
The report reads:
“The most impactful diet adjustments relate to the reduced consumption of specific products. For starters, Americans consumed 19 percent less beef, avoiding an estimated 185 MMT of climate-warming pollution or roughly the equivalent of the annual tailpipe pollution of 39 million cars.”
Likely to counterbalance the absence of meat, however, Americans have increased their intake of dairy products, which can be just as carbon-intensive as beef. Reportedly, U.S. citizens ate significantly more cheese, yogurt, and butter between 2005 and 2014.
However, the decline in beef consumption is still noteworthy, as the NRDC notes:
“Despite a drop in consumption, beef still contributes more climate-warming pollution than any other food in the American diet. In fact, it comprised approximately 34 percent of total diet-related per capita climate-warming pollution in 2014, the last year for which data is available.”
The report reveals that changes to the industry could reduce the lifecycle climate-change pollution impacts of beef. For instance, if more bovine were grass fed (rather than fed corn and soy which require large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers), fewer fossil fuels would be utilized and climate emissions would be reduced. If you’d like to learn more about the effects of large-scale agricultural farming, click here.
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