Not all meat is created equal, finds the recently published “Meat Easter’s Guide to Climate Change + Health” by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Teaming up with environmental analysis firm CleanMetrics, the two conducted lifecycle assessments of the top 20 conventionally produced, non-organic proteins Americans pile onto their dinner plates. The major findings: lamb, beef, cheese and farmed salmon have the highest emissions.
To come to this conclusion, Production Emissions (i.e. GMO feed grain and methane release) and Post Farmgate Emissions (i.e. transport and cooking) were calculated. Though we usually associate emissions with the planet getting hotter, the Meat Eater’s Guide makes it clear that “the U.S. has other very large other industrial sources of greenhouse gases, making the meat slice of carbon emissions comparatively smaller.”
Carbon emissions aside then, the guide does validate an old saying: you are what you eat. Cutting back on meat consumption is one of the most effective actions you can take to dramatically improve your health and support sustainable agriculture methods that give us clean air, water and land. The way our industrial animal operations are currently run in this country is unsettling. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” or Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” for an insightful read into the path our food takes to get on our plates and the potential destruction it leaves in its wake.
Overwhelmed on where to begin? The Meat Eater’s Guide provides some easy tips, such as buying organic, grass-fed meat or committing to a Meatless Monday. You don’t need to go whole-hog right away! Check back later for one of my homemade seasonal veggie recipes that won’t have you missing meat.