Is Meat The World’s Most Inefficient Food?

I’m pretty confident that there will never be a day when all the world is in agreement about the best human diet. I’m an omnivore myself, but I have friends who swear by their paleovegetarian, and vegan diets. All of us can make compelling arguments about why we eat the way we do, and all of us can make valid criticisms of diets that are unlike our own.

For me, deciding how and what to eat required a close examination of the values and principles that truly matter to me. The type of food we consume has immediate health and economic consequences, but it also has a significant impact on our environment.

As the infographic below explains, the manner and scale at which our society currently raises animal for human consumption contributes to climate change in major way. It also wastes water, pollutes our soil, and contaminates fresh water supplies.

Now, I’m not saying that you’re to blame for climate change because you enjoy hamburgers. But if you’re really trying to live a low-impact life, eating less meat (and ensuring that the meat you do eat is raised by responsible farmers and ranchers) could help you shrink your carbon footprint a lot faster than buying a hybrid or skipping showers.

Veganism by the numbers.

Related Reading:

The Importance Of Being Vegan

Subway Goes Vegan: Rolls Out 3 New Sandwiches

10 Arguments Against A Vegan Lifestyle


Top Image via Thinkstock Infographic by CulinarySchools.org

327 comments

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R6 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R6 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim V6 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Caroline d.
Caroline d1 years ago

Thank you very much for sharing !
Be blessed.

A happy veggie :)

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Gerald L.
Gerald L2 years ago

Quote: Walter Jeffries said...
Grass fed is the way to go. We can grow grass easily. Corn is a lot more work. Buying feed? Ridiculous costs. The fact that the easy, inexpensive thing is also the healthier thing is so wonderful. We feed our pigs grass, pasture in the warm months and hay in the winter. People tell me pigs can't eat grass. I don't tell the pigs.
7:38 PM, October 25, 2007
- See more at: http://thebeginningfarmer.blogspot.ca/2007/10/stockman-grass-farmer.html#sthash.JpUj887Z.dpuf

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Gerald L.
Gerald L2 years ago

@ David R. @ 10:24am PDT on Apr 3, 2013
Something I stumbled upon completely by chance the other day was a news report about research into crop rotation. We mostly know about the harsh and intensive way that crops are grown I guess - masses of chemical fertiliser ad herbicides to rip as much as possible from the struggling earth.

David, kudo's, Wendell Berry in one of his Chapters recounts how an Amish/Mennonite farmer lets his pigs into a mature corn field to gorge themselves. They fertilize the ground for free, fatten up on organic corn I hope. They then harvest anything salvageable for winter feed, then plough under the remaining corn stalks for decomposition enriching the soil.

This negates artificial fertilizers with their environmental impact and co$t. Saves labour, time and provides tasty pork.

Book Review: Wendell Berry's "Bringing It to the Table: On Farming ...
www.agdevjournal.com/.../136-berry-bringing-it-to-the-table-book-review. html?...‎
The Call of the Land: An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century by Steven McFadden. (2009). Nashville, IN: Norlights Press. 119 pp. $12.95, paperback.

JAFSCD_Berry_Book_Review-Thilmany_McFadden_Nov-2010.pdf 118 Kb

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David R.
David R4 years ago

Something I stumbled upon completely by chance the other day was a news report about research into crop rotation. We mostly know about the harsh and intensive way that crops are grown I guess - masses of chemical fertiliser ad herbicides to rip as much as possible from the struggling earth. This research (I probably need to track down the actual source, though there is a basic article on the New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/a-simple-fix-for-food/ ) basically compared the 'usual' way of farming with a few experimental approaches, one of which involved dedicating one year of the rotation cycle to pasturing animals on the land. And the results were impressive. Adding animals into the rotation pattern lead to an 88% reduction in required fertiliser etc requirement, and a 200fold reduction in ground water toxins with no loss in profit.

Now this is just one article and I haven't looked into it in so much detail yet, but it is a fairly good indication that, as one might expect, massive black and white ideas along the lines of 'eliminating meat production will save the world' are far too simplistic.

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Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Dale, Scott must have been thawed out with the woolley mammoth in Siberia, because lions, tigers, cheetas, and in fact, all felines are obligate carnivores......ie., they MUST have meat OR they will become very ill. We who are human and eat meat are not carnivores. Scott seems to be in need of a dictionary.

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Dale O.

Interesting to see that vegans are a tiny minority in India as I generally hear about many of the vegetarians living there and rarely vegans. Find that Jainism in India is fascinating as they refuse to eat root veggies because they fear pulling them up harms small insects but do eat cheese and drink milk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

Scott P states: "Dale O: "obligate carnivores" died out with the dinosaurs... The eating of flesh is either a conscious or instinctual choice but not an act of survival." Tell that to a cat, which is a pure obligate carnivore. Felines rule and are here to stay!




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Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Thanks, Gerald. I knew that there are vegans in India, same as there are vegans in probably most countries that have any ties to the outside world in some way, BUT if you read the ramblings BY vegans in Care.2, they predominate the population in India. Of course, those that are making those accusations are for the most part, male and they become angry, agitated and soon very hostile and disrespectful should a FEMALE refute their "stats" or remarks. Only one comment from one female vegan in India that I recall,and that was last night and she is very young, claims a boatload of stuff that I know to be ridiculously inaccurate, but at least was not rude........just living in some fantasy world.

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