New research claims that eating beef could have a larger environmental impact than car emissions.
The study, by a team at Bard College in New York State, showed that in the USA farming beef requires 28 times more land and 11 times more water than chicken and pork, and produces 11 times more greenhouse gases than the cultivation of potatoes and wheat.
Farming causes 15% of all emissions, with half of that coming from animals. The Independent reported in 2009 that this was more than more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
Professor Tim Benton, at the University of Leeds, said that the data is not UK-based, but stated that “the biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat.”
However, Dr Ceris Jones, the NFU’s climate change adviser, said: “Th[is study] presents a confusing and inconsistent picture. Our beef production systems are very different from those in the US. With much of our land in the UK only suitable for growing grass, converting this into food efficiently requires livestock. Plus, British beef farmers undertake a range of activities to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint.”
The case for giving up beef gained support in high places this month, when Richard Branson annouced on his blog that he has decided to give up beef due to its environmental impact.
What do you think? Would you give up beef to reduce carbon emissions?