MEAT & DAIRY

MEAT & DAIRY


Here’s the problem:

 “More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production,” a United Nations report, released in May, 2019, says.

In the US alone, cropland occupies about one-fifth of U.S. land and most of that is used for livestock feed. An additional one-third is used for pasture. There’s a single, major occupant on all this land: cows. Between cropland — used to produce feed — and pastures, 41 percent of U.S. land in the contiguous states revolves around livestock.

Trees and forests are a powerful force for climate mitigation. As more forests are cleared for agriculture — mainly to grow soy, raise cattle and produce palm oil — greenhouse gas emissions increase as a byproduct of nitrogen fertilizer and methane from cattle and sheep. Additionally, deforestation eliminates trees which are “breathing in” CO2 and “breathing out” moisture. This releases the carbon dioxide stored in forests.  

The overwhelming majority of the clearing in the Amazon is to make way for cattle and crops that feed cattle.

Based on a UN Food & Agriculture study (2013) it is estimated that the total annual emissions from animal agriculture (production emissions plus land-use change) were about 14.5 percent of all human emissions, of which beef contributed 41 percent. If global demand for beef, goats & sheep grows by 88 percent between 2010 and 2050 (as it is estimated to do), the resulting deforestation could increase global emissions enough to put the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5-2 degrees C (2.7-3.6 degrees F) out of reach. 

Some of the Solutions:

If we improve the way we raise cattle by improving management practices like rotational grazing, productivity and soil health can be boosted while reducing emissions. This means that cattle should be pasture raised, trampling over vegetation and pushing nutrients into the soil. Cow manure then acts as a natural fertilizer reducing the need for unsustainable tilling practices and dangerous synthetic fertilizers.

If we eat ½ the amount of burgers we are currently consuming it would nearly eliminate the need for additional agricultural expansion (and associated deforestation), even in a world with 10 billion people. 

39% of Americans say they want to eat more plant-based foods. Dozens of organizations across the globe have joined Cool Food pledging to make that possible in their facilities. Now serving 800+ million meals annually, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and company cafeterias are offering consumers more of what they want while slashing food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2030. 

CREDIT: COWSPIRACY

CURRENT NEWS

KEY RESOURCES

Animal Rights

01/28/22
Vegetarianism, Veganism, Pescatarianism, Flexitarianism. Never before have there been so many ways to define how and what we eat. But are these choices simply a matter of personal taste, or do they reflect a broader…

Opinion | Let’s launch a moonshot for meatless meat

01/24/22
I’m a vegan, but I’m also a realist. There’s no chance humanity is going to give up meat, en masse, anytime soon. That said, we can’t just wish away the risks of industrial animal agriculture.…

Blitzresults Meat-Calculator

08/30/19
How many animals could continue living if you switched to vegetarian diet? How does the environment benefit?

Beef2Live – Ranking of States With The Most Cattle

08/30/19
Texas had the most cattle in the United States in 2022 followed by Nebraska and Kansas. Thirty (30) states had over 1 million head of cattle. Fourteen (14) states had over 2 million head of…

Plant Based Foods Association

08/30/19
To promote the plant-based foods industry by removing obstacles to a fair and competitive marketplace for alternatives to animal ingredients and products.

Good Food Institute

08/30/19
We work with scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs to make groundbreaking good food a reality. We focus on clean meat and plant-based alternatives to animal products—foods that are more delicious, safer to eat, and better for…

Sustainable Conservation – Dairy Reports

06/24/19
Sustainable Conservation helps California thrive by uniting people to solve the toughest challenges facing our land, air, and water. We bring together business, landowners and government to steward the resources that we all depend on…

MORE NEWS

Smarter choices at the dinner table can go a long way to help the Amazon

By Richard Schiffman  Photo: Andre Penner/AP   03/09/22  
‘We are going to be eating the rainforest in our burgers. This is our moment as Americans to step forward and leverage some pressure to save the world,’ one scientist said.

US beef industry emerges from Biden’s climate pledges ‘relatively unscathed’

By Matt Krupnick  Photo: Larry Mayer , Getty Images   03/07/22  
The US beef industry has escaped “relatively unscathed” from Joe Biden’s attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to leaders at the industry’s recent CattleCon convention.

Satellite images show the Amazon is hurtling toward a ‘tipping point’

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg New   03/07/22  
More than half of the rainforest could turn into savanna — threatening wildlife, shifting weather patterns and fueling climate change

Opinion | Let’s launch a moonshot for meatless meat

By Peter Prato  Photo: Peter Prato for The New York Times   01/24/22  
I’m a vegan, but I’m also a realist. There’s no chance humanity is going to give up meat, en masse, anytime soon. That said, we can’t just wish away the risks of industrial animal agriculture.…

Carbon farming: reducing methane emissions from cattle using feed additives

10/26/21  
Feed additives or supplements can reduce methane emissions from ruminant livestock.Livestock produce significant amounts of methane as part of their normal digestive processes. Some feed additives can inhibit the microorganisms that produce methane in the…

Giant Meat and Dairy Companies Are Dominating the Plant-Based and Cellular Meat Market

By Philip H. Howard   09/22/21  
Nearly every week a major media outlet publishes a headline announcing that a giant meat or dairy processor has acquired full or partial ownership of an “alternative protein” firm—such as JBS buying the Dutch firm…

Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, study finds

By Oliver Milman  Photo: Jim West/Alamy Stock Photo   09/13/21  
The global production of food is responsible for a third of all planet-heating gases emitted by human activity, with the use of animals for meat causing twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods, a major…

Investigation: How the Meat Industry is Climate-Washing its Polluting Business Model

By Caroline Christen  Photo: Peter Reynolds   07/18/21  
In February last year, the head of a leading global meat industry body gave a “pep talk” to his colleagues at an Australian agriculture conference.

What are we doing about dairy emissions?

By Sherry Listgarten  Photo: UC Davis   05/30/21  
I’m a big believer in each of us working to reduce our own emissions. But some things are harder than others, and for me I’m pretty stuck on dairy, and especially cheese. I’m not sure…

Chicken or Beef? Both Contribute to Climate Change, New Study Finds

By Emily Denny  Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus   05/30/21  
Curbing the world's appetite for meat is necessary to combat the climate crisis, but global meat consumption is on the rise. Beef cattle have an outsized environmental impact because they belch methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In total,…

Beefing over beef is a distraction the climate movement can’t afford

By Justine Calma  Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images   05/28/21  
Lately, it seems like forgoing red meat has become an unfortunate proxy for environmental credentials. Epicurious, for example, just announced that it will no longer publish articles or recipes with beef in a decision it calls, “not anti-beef…

The ‘Beef’ With Beef: Cattle, Climate Change, And Alternative Meat

By Sherry Listgarten  Photo: Liam Niemeyer   05/28/21  
Many people might think of Blake Munger as a cattle farmer as he walks through his pasture land in western Kentucky, but he sees things a little differently nowadays. “I don’t know which is more…

From Beef to Chocolate, Illegal Deforestation Lurks Behind Your Favorite Everyday Foods

By Anastasia Moloney  Photo: Flickr/CIFOR/Kate Evans   05/19/21  
BOGOTA, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Nearly 70% of tropical forests cleared for cattle ranching and crops such as soybeans and palm oil were deforested illegally between 2013 and 2019, a study showed on…

Do We Have To Give Up Meat To Fight Climate Change?

By Robert Kunzig  Photo: Joe Sohm   05/18/21  
I was thinking about Brianna Randall’s article for us this week, about cattle ranchers in the Great Plains who are trying to bring fire back to the tall-grass prairie, when I picked up the Sunday Washington Post and read…

Is Beef the New Coal? Climate-Friendly Eating Is on the Rise

By Mike Dorning   05/14/21  
Eleven Madison Park, a top Manhattan restaurant, is going meatless. The Epicurious cooking site stopped posting new beef recipes. The Culinary Institute of America is promoting “plant-forward” menus. Dozens of colleges, including Harvard and Stanford, are…

Third of global food production at risk from climate crisis

By Fiona Harvey  Photo: Alamy   05/14/21  
Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have calculated that about 95% of current crop production takes place in areas they define as “safe climatic space”, or conditions where temperature, rainfall and aridity fall within certain…

It’s not just methane—meat production fills the air with noxious particulate matter too

By Shaena Montanari   05/13/21  
Feeding the world is a necessity, but the process doesn’t come without health risks—even in the form of air pollution. Fossil fuel combustion in cars and factories is a notorious cause of air pollution, specifically…

Air pollution from farms leads to 17,900 U.S. deaths per year, study finds

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg News   05/10/21  
The smell of hog feces was overwhelming, Elsie Herring said. The breezes that wafted from the hog farm next to her mother’s Duplin County, N.C., home carried hazardous gases: methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide.

The Tricky Business of Tipping Cows

05/07/21  
A technocultural shift is clearly underway: the future of beef is up for grabs. In rich and even emerging economies, consumption of red meat is flat or falling. Meanwhile, investors have been pouring hundreds of…

As the war over meat heats up, American beef consumption skyrockets

By Christian Spencer   05/04/21  
America’s consumption of red meat has only increased during the pandemic, but problems cited by climate change experts say this trend needs to be addressed. Whether it is from the grocery stores or ordering takeout,…

Cows, Pastured Livestock Might Help Fight Climate Change According to Studies

By Margaret Davis   05/02/21  
Environmentalists have long targeted the beef industry because of the adverse effect that raising cows and producing meat and dairy products has on the environment. Allegedly, it hastens global warming because of the greenhouse gases…

No, Biden has not declared war on meat. But maybe that’s what the world needs

By Arwa Mahdawi  Photo: Michael Berman/Getty Images   04/28/21  
It looks as if the right are giving themselves heartburn to own the libs. Over the weekend, some prominent US conservatives shared pictures of themselves eating enormous slabs of meat in response to fabricated claims…

COVID-19 accelerates RethinkX predictions of meat and dairy collapse by 2030, founder says

Megan Poinski   03/22/21  
The COVID-19 pandemic has largely proven — and in some ways accelerated — think tank RethinkX's 2019 report saying the beef and dairy industries will collapse by 2030, James Arbib, RethinkX's founder, said at the virtual New…

Feeding cows seaweed could cut their methane emissions by 82%, scientists say

By Oliver Milman  Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP   03/18/21  
Feeding seaweed to cows is a viable long-term method to reduce the emission of planet-heating gases from their burps and flatulence, scientists have found. Researchers who put a small amount of seaweed into the feed…

Cutting Out Beef Could Cut Agricultural Land Use In Half

By Lloyd Alter  Photo by Franklin Levert   03/05/21  
Treehugger has been writing about the problems of meat forever, we have been pitching vegetarian and vegan diets for years as a way of reducing one's carbon footprint, and we keep writing posts about reducing…

Three startups setting out to transform the food system

By Monica Watrous   03/03/21  
KANSAS CITY — Entrepreneurs are developing disruptive solutions to address pressing health and environmental challenges. Perfect Day, Renewal Mill and The Better Meat Co. are among next-generation ingredient manufacturers championing change in the supply chain.

NYC Mayor’s Offices Urges Public To Reduce Meat Intake To Fight Climate Crisis

By Liam Giliver  Photo by Adobe   03/02/21  
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare is urging the public to reduce their meat intake to fight the climate crisis. It sent a newsletter to residents in partnership with World Animal Protection’s Meating Halfway campaign.

UN Climate Report Urges Shift Away From Meat and Dairy

By Liam Pritchett  Photo by Christophe Cerisier/iStock   02/26/21  
According to the UN climate report, “everyone has a role to play” in transforming humankind’s relationship with the natural world. This includes voting, minimizing waste, and moving away from high-impact animal products such as meat…

Fact check: Does growing meat consumption doom the earth to severe warming?

By Peter Singer  Photo by Getty   02/25/21  
Renowned Australian philosopher Peter Singer has claimed that if meat consumption continues to grow, it won’t be possible to limit global warming to two degrees – even if emissions from burning fossil fuels are stopped.

Meeting Paris Agreement ‘Impossible’ Unless Meat Production Is Reduced, Says Expert

By Liam Giliver  Photo by Adobe   02/17/21  
Meeting the Paris Climate Agreement is ‘impossible’ unless meat production is reduced, according to a food expert. Bruce Friedrich is the Executive Director of The Good Food Institute (GFI). The non-profit ties its work of…

Bill Gates: Rich nations should shift entirely to synthetic beef

By James Temple  Photo by John Keatley   02/14/21  
The Microsoft cofounder, who is now cochair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chair of the investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures, sticks to his past argument that we’ll need numerous energy breakthroughs to…

A New Study on Regenerative Grazing Complicates Climate Optimism

Virginia Gewin  Photo via Civil Eats   01/06/21  
A new, peer-reviewed paper on White Oak Pastures’ practices advances our understanding of the climate impact of beef and the potential for regenerative grazing to store carbon in the soil.

What if the United States stopped eating meat?

By Frank Mitloehner   12/04/20  
If Americans’ gave up meat and other animal products, would that solve our climate crisis? Research says no. In fact, it continues to demonstrate giving up meat would be a woefully inadequate solution to the…

An unusual snack for cows, a powerful fix for climate

By Tatiana Schlossberg  Photo: Sea Forest   11/27/20  
One of the most powerful weapons in the fight against climate change is washing up on shorelines around the world, unnoticed by most beachgoers.

Got Beef? Here’s What Your Hamburger Is Doing To The Climate

By David Vetter  Photo: Alliance/Getty Images   10/05/20  
The ethics of killing animals for their meat have been debated for centuries. But in recent years, the looming specter of climate change has given meat eaters an additional dilemma to consider: cattle and dairy…

Checking in on the climate as you check out

By Ali Withers  Photo by Sine Fiig   09/30/20  
COOP DK, the Danish cooperative that controls one-third of the country’s grocery market, says it is trying to educate consumers with an eye toward nudging them to cut back on meat and dairy, two categories…

Interactive: What is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy?

By Daisy Dunne   09/14/20  
Food production accounts for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and takes up half of the planet’s habitable surface.

Will COVID-19 Make Big Meat Look Like a Bad Investment?

By Lisa Held   07/29/20  
Jeremy Coller would like to be remembered as a man who saved “a few cows from a factory farm.” But unlike animal rights activists who break into barns to document abusive practices or environmentalists who…

Less windy Whoppers? Low-methane Burger King still involves some hot air

By Sarah Mock  Photo: PhotoAlto/Alamy   07/22/20  
Lemongrass-fed cows mean more sustainable burgers, says the fast-food chain – but experts say there’s more work to be doneWhether showing off their burgers going mouldy due to lack of preservatives, making vegan Impossible Whoppers…

Turning manure into money

By Jim Morrison  Photo by Adam Glanzman   06/16/20  
Farmers and utilities are burning methane for energy — and curtailing a powerful greenhouse gas in the process

35 Mind-Shattering Facts Linking Factory Farming to Climate Change

Photo by Matt Zimmerman   03/26/20  
Meat production is a leading cause of climate change, water waste, and deforestation. Why is everyone overlooking this again?

The Biogenic Carbon Cycle and Cattle

By Samantha Werth   02/19/20  
When plants perform photosynthesis, carbon is primarily converted to cellulose, a form of carbohydrate that is one of the main building blocks for growing plants. Cellulose happens to be the most abundant organic compound in…

EU urged to adopt meat tax to tackle climate emergency

By Damian Carrington  Photo: Bloomberg/Getty   02/04/20  
Levy would help offset impact of farming by raising price of steak in UK by 25%, says report

Turning cow waste into clean power on a national scale

By Eileen Abbott  Photo: Getty   01/28/20  
A new partnership will convert waste from dairy cows into usable natural gas.
cnn

America’s milk industry is struggling. Don’t blame oat milk

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner   11/21/19  
Milk is falling out of fashion. In 2010, 55 billion pounds of milk were sold in the United States. By 2018, that figure dropped to 47.7 billion, a decline of about 13%.

Can regenerative agriculture reverse climate change? Big Food is banking on it.

By Gosia Wozniacka  Photo: Doug Chayka for NBC News / Getty Images   10/29/19  
Regenerative agriculture works to draw carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil, but there’s an ongoing debate on how much carbon can be stored there and for how long.

Can a Burger Help Solve Climate Change?

By Tad Friend   09/30/19  
Eating meat creates huge environmental costs. Impossible Foods thinks it has a solution.

Will Climate Change Mean Less Farming in the West?

By Twilight Greenaway   09/16/19  
Colorado and California are rethinking water management for a hotter, drier future, while balancing urban water needs with the benefits agriculture brings to rural communities.

Stonyfield’s Sustainable Land Management Plan Focuses on Soil Health, Sequestering Carbon

By Roya Sabri   08/22/19  
We can look to Stonyfield Organic as an example of a corporation that has taken sustainability seriously from its inception. The company’s newest initiative focuses even more on agriculture.

Move Over, Fake Meat-Cow Less Milk and Cheese Are On the Way

By Teaganne Finn   08/20/19  
Cow-less dairy startup Perfect Day put 1,000 pints of its cell-based ice cream up for sale on its website at $60 for three pints, and sold out in hours...