Almost Half Of Our Food-Based Carbon Emissions Come From 20% Of Americans


The food we raise and grow accounts for about 9% of our greenhouse gas emissions, which is one of the reasons why you hear so much about plant-based diets. And it’s no secret that meat, especially cattle, is a big piece of that carbon pie. But a new study has uncovered that it’s such a problem that just 20% of Americans contribute nearly half the greenhouse gases.

Why? They eat way more meat than the average American. Keep in mind your average American eats 55 pounds of beef a year, as part of the 200 pounds of total meat we house at Thanksgiving and at drive-thrus — so these are people who eat even more meat than that. These are the people balancing that average for the vegetarians out there.

To be fair, though nobody really knew this until a few weeks ago. The study that found this out had to link together several major databases to determine what was on American plates, how it got there, and what the total greenhouse gas emissions from that meal were — looking at the entire lifecycle of each food, from stem to plate or nose to tail. Also, the only reason we’re picking on beef here is because of the ecological cost of feed, the large amounts of land cattle need to live on, and the rank burps of cows. Vegetarians still have some of the same problems with greenhouse gas emissions, just to a lesser degree.

The lesson, here, is that we don’t have to give up steak. But every choice we make directly impacts the world around us, so we might want to consider having a nice chickpea terrine or an eggplant parm a few days a week instead. Think of your meal not just as what you eat, but for the world it creates with every forkful.

(via Popular Science)