The Environmental Working Group, USA, recently released its Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health, a powerful, multi-featured tool that allows both consumers and experts to understand easily how food choices affect both their environmental footprint and their health.
Taking into account every stage of food production, processing, consumption and waste disposal, the guide documents in unprecedented detail how consumers who eat less meat and cheese can significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and health risks linked to their dietary choices. Previous studies have focussed mostly on emissions from the food production phase only.
The calculations reveal that if everyone in the US ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, over a year, the effect on emissions would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
The research also highlights the surprisingly large environmental impact of meat that goes into the trash, which accounts for more than 20 per cent of all meat-associated emissions.
“By eating and wasting less meat, consumers can help limit the environmental damage caused by the huge amounts of fertiliser, fuel, water, and pesticides, not to mention the toxic manure and wastewater, that goes along with producing meat,” said Kari Hamerschlag, senior analyst, EWG, and author of the report. “Choosing healthier, pasture-raise meats can also help improve people’s health and reduce the environmental damage associated with meat consumption.”
Mario Batali, chef, restaurateur, award-winning author, and television personality, said, “The fact is, most people in the US eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet, but even knowing this, the chances are little that we are all going to become vegetarians, much less vegan. Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan is not a realistic or attainable goal, but we can focus on a more plant-based diet and support the farmers who raise their animals humanely and sustainably. This is why I am such a big believer in the Meatless Monday Movement and the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change and Health.”