Stop eating red meat, the starting point to take care of the planet

Delving into the origin, mode of production and resources invested in the products we consume and reducing the amount of red meat we eat is a great step to take care of the planet and contribute to the fight against climate change.

How to reduce our footprint and fight against this apocalyptic phenomenon called climate change, caused by the human hand, its greed and waste of natural resources? From the Popular Science magazine they point out that reducing the consumption of red meat is probably the best starting point, in addition to eating the right types of vegetables and betting on monitoring the production models of the industry and the impact on local environments.

Red meat production generates tons of greenhouse gas emissions and occupies large portions of land, causing serious damage to the environment. Walter Willet, professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard points out that his production "has a great impact on almost all environmental aspects, with the emission of harmful gases being the most serious."

This expert explains that a lot of energy is lost and a large amount of carbon dioxide and methane is generated in the production chain. On the one hand, numerous resources are spent on the process of growing the grains that supply livestock conceived for meat production and the use of animals as food. Their conversion is inefficient, since they consume many more foods than they can provide.

In addition, the amount of methane generated by cows in the form of flatulence is another problem - on average, they produce around 100 to 500 liters of this gas per day. A lot of water is also spent: only in the United States, one third of the water is used by the meat industry. To give you an idea: between 500 and 3,000 liters of water are required for the production of a single kilo of meat. It is not so much the fact of eating it but the way and the quantities in which we produce it “much more impactful for the environment from a variety of indicators that include carbon footprint, land use and water use” , says Martin Heller of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan.

This expert reveals that changing an omnivorous to vegetarian diet could reduce a person's carbon footprint by approximately 30%, and in any case, if it is not abandoned, it is convenient to reduce the amount or frequency in which red meat is ingested.

For his part, Walter Willet points out that there are some (atypical) niche production systems that would have a smaller impact than, for example, a bean field. In other words, if there are grazing lands that cannot be cultivated sustainably, they could be used for livestock. And if we only raised cattle on this type of land, it would end up dramatically reducing global consumption of red meat.

Local trade, proximity and fresh produce

The fact that a plant-based diet is in fact plant-based does not necessarily mean that it is healthy. Willett recalls that “Coca Cola and Dunkin Donuts are foods of plant origin and are obviously harmful to human health. A vegetarian diet should focus more on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and for protein sources, legumes and seeds would be much better than the average American diet. ”
It is essential to attend to several fundamental parameters for the environment such as betting on local and seasonal products, consulting the distance traveled by the food and transport involved, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. For example, "driving a truck from 100 kilometers is relatively local, but it can have a much more adverse environmental impact than carrying some fruits in large quantities several hundred kilometers away by train." It is also important to analyze the impact in the region of products that require large amounts of water resources, in line with the climatic circumstances.

It should be noted that from a study prepared by the University of British Columbia (Canada), they indicated that only by adopting a vegetarian diet, the emission of 0.8 tons of greenhouse gases (tCO2) per person per year would be avoided.