There are a bunch of theories that say that beef is the worst meat you can eat environmentally speaking. Not the beef itself, it is so delicious! But at what cost? Is there any way to taste great beef in an environmentally friendly way without guilt? Let’s see what I’ve found out.
One kilogram of beef needs 15415 liters of water to be on your plate. Per kilogram of food, animals have a larger footprint than crop products. The global water footprint of beef production between 1996 and 2005 was about 800 billion m3 a year. That’s one-third of the total water footprint of animal production.
Should we stop eating beef and go vegan?
Of course not! It would be nice and your health will improve drastically but if you love meat, you will continue to eat it. What you can do to improve your footprint is to take baby steps and eat less beef. Reduce to once a week, then once every two weeks.
You can buy the meat from environmentally friendly sources, if your budget allows, buy grass-fed beef that is sourced locally. This way you’ll be helping your community by choosing local sources and you’ll be also helping the environment by buying meat that was created in a responsible way and the animal you’re eating had a good life t provide you the succulent beef in front of you.
You can also opt for other kinds of meat, beef is the kind of meat that uses the most natural resources. Chicken, goats, or sheep need way less water, land, and food resources than cows and they also need fewer resources to be on your plate.
It is all about moderation, if we all eat less meat, fewer animals will be needed to feed the population and that translates to less water and other resources wasted.
It isn’t for everybody
Going vegan is a great idea, but it isn’t for everybody. Not even for me and I’m talking about this. I love to eat a good beef once in a while, but I know the true cost of that beef. And I’m not talking about money. So to combat this I only eat meat once a week and beef once a month.
For dairy products, I only eat cheese at the weekends or social events. For the other days, I usually eat fish every other day. A normal meal for me has lots of greens, beans, tofu, and other vegetable proteins. It is not easy, but I think I’m in a good way to reduce my carbon footprint.
If you asked me a few years ago if I wanted to eat tofu instead of beef I would think that you were crazy. Nowadays I’ve more information and I’m more sensitive to the climatic changes we are suffering. It was necessary an eye-opener but I needed that and now I’m trying every day to have a more sustainable lifestyle.
It isn’t that hard, but it isn’t easy also.
The environmental impact of beef
As you can see, between 1977 and 2007 beef production was more or less stable in spite of the global population becoming much larger. The number isn’t way bigger because agriculture and farming is more efficient than ever and that really helps!
On the second graph, you can see that while the number of cattle slaughtered dropped, beef continued to grow in a steady way, that’s why this is so alarming and that’s why there are so many movements against meat producers. It has a huge environmental impact when it’s done incorrectly and without worrying about the next generations. Unfortunately, most of those companies only look for profits and don’t give attention to what they’re doing to the environment. Money isn’t always the solution.
Those businesses need to be educated about the impact they’re making in the environment and we can help individually by simply not making business with them. We can opt for other kinds of protein, other companies that have a positive impact on the environment and that give a proper and dignified life to their cattle.
You can take a look at the Certified Human website for companies that do business in an environmentally friendly way and that improve cattle life by giving them a good life.
Other ways to help the environment
Last year Mr Beast on YouTube created #TeamTrees that is an initiative to plant trees around the world. You can help the environment by simply donating a dollar to the cause. They’ll plant a tree for each donated dollar.
The ideia is to create a 8000km wall of trees to combat the progress of the desert to arable terrains and thus destroying natural resources in a zone that has few of them.
Those are the two causes I usually donate to. By donating I’m not reducing my carbon footprint directly, but I have the notion that I’m helping in a way I can and where my help is needed in places I couldn’t help physically.
You can make the difference locally
Instead of donating to help on the other side of the planet, you can also help locally by planting trees on your terrain if you have one. Help friends or join the community and clean your forests, beaches, side roads… It is also a great way to meet new people who have the same ideals as you. I know a friend that met her now-girlfriend by joining #TrashTag last year. Maybe you’ll find your love by helping the environment.
By helping locally you’re also creating a better future for you and your family. Your kids will have a cleaner life, live in a cleaner neighborhood and they will have a much better quality of life when comparing to other places that unfortunately don’t have this kind of initiative. You’ll be living in a clean place and way more pleasant to the eye.
Even for tourism having a clean neighborhood is crucial. You don’t want to visit a dirty place even if it has the best enchiladas in the world! There are studies that prove that a cleaner city leads to less criminal activity. By removing garbage from the streets you’ll be creating a safer place to live and it’s so simple! Your city will be safer, cleaner and tourism will help local businesses. That’s a win-win situation.
- Connect 4 Climate
- Great Green Wall
- Journal of Animal Science, Volume 89, Issue 12, December 2011, Pages 4249–4261
- Water Footprint
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