Friday, July 20, 2007


According to a recent article on the Telegraph (U.K.) eating beef produces more pollution than driving. It is stated that producing 2.2 lbs of beef generates as much greenhouse gas as a car traveling 50 mph for 155 miles. The article ends with a quote stating:

"Everybody is trying to come up with different ways to reduce carbon footprints, but one of the easiest things you can do is to stop eating meat."


Should we really stop eating beef? It is a very nutritional part of many people’s diets and difficult to match. On average 20 of the 29 lean beef cuts have only 1 more gram of saturated fat than a skinless chicken breast per 3-ounce serving. In additon beef is not only low fat, but also very nutrient-rich. Compared to a skinless chicken breast, beef has eight times more vitamin B12, six times more zinc and two and a half times more iron.

Cars are very necessary for transportation, and we know that they produce greenhouse gases, but we don’t stop driving altogether. We continue to produce more and more fuel efficient cars instead. The same can be said for beef production.

Beef production per cow has increased about 185 pounds since the mid-1960s to 585 pounds per cow in 2005. According to the data in the telegraph, for every cow that goes to slaugheter today vs. 30 years ago, increased efficiency in beef production is equivelant to removing from the highway 84 cars traveling 50 miles per hour for 155 miles. ( 185/ 2.2= 84)

Improvements in nutrition, genetics, and management will only improve the ‘environmental footprint’ of beef production. Beef production has never been greener.

1 comment:

agEconomist said...

I haven't seen the exact science related to the telegraph article, but this is assuming that a large portion of GHG emissions from cattle are the result of life processes, and are thus fixed. this being the case, the researchers likely took total beef production in pounds and divided by total GHG emissions, getting the 2.2 figure.

If that's the case, then an increase in productivity per cow, would reduce the environmental foot print. i.e. implying that fewer cows would be required to meet demand for beef, with fewer GHG emissions.