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posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 23 2014, @04:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the order-another-burger dept.

Research into the environmental impact of animal-based foods has concluded that beef has the greatest impact by a large margin (Full text [pdf]).

When the numbers were in, including those for the environmental costs of different kinds of feed (pasture, roughage such as hay, and concentrates such as corn), the team developed equations that yielded values for the environmental cost per calorie and then per unit of protein, for each food.

The calculations showed that the biggest culprit, by far, is beef. That was no surprise, say Milo and Shepon. The surprise was in the size of the gap: In total, eating beef is more costly to the environment by an order of magnitude about ten times on average than other animal-derived foods, including pork and poultry. Cattle require on average 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water, are responsible for releasing 5 times more greenhouse gases, and consume 6 times as much nitrogen, as eggs or poultry. Poultry, pork, eggs and dairy all came out fairly similar. That was also surprising, because dairy production is often thought to be relatively environmentally benign. But the research shows that the price of irrigating and fertilizing the crops fed to milk cows as well as the relative inefficiency of cows in comparison to other livestock jacks up the cost significantly.

 
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  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by fliptop on Wednesday July 23 2014, @04:50PM

    by fliptop (1666) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @04:50PM (#72838) Journal

    How about reading the title, summary or article?

    I did, and what I see is death by a thousand slices. To me this is just a way for all the chicken-littles to cry the sky is falling, you must stop eating beef and drinking milk and eating cheese. If they were successful, and everyone started shunning beef and turned to chicken/pork/fish, don't you think the next study will be "producing pork is X times more harmful to the environment than chicken and fish?"

    It's nothing more than a ploy by environmentalist wackos (and possibly vegetarians) to shame us knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers into submission.

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by hoochiecoochieman on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:04PM

    by hoochiecoochieman (4158) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:04PM (#72844)

    They can pry my pork from my cold, dead hands!

    • (Score: 2) by Alfred on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:28PM

      by Alfred (4006) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:28PM (#72860) Journal

      I like the diversity of beef, pork and chicken so...

      You can pry my fork from my cold, dead hands!

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:14PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:14PM (#72850) Journal

    Agreed, its also the top item on the vegan agenda.

    From TFS:

    including those for the environmental costs of different kinds of feed (pasture, roughage such as hay, and concentrates such as corn)

    The point here is that we have no way to feed ourselves with pasture roughage and hay OTHER THAN by Cattle, sheep, or goats. We can't eat that stuff. So its not like we can just stop doing that and plant turnips or something.

    Any alternative crops that we could grow on that pastureland would take much higher population densities to manage, and do much more environmental damage.

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    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:28PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday July 23 2014, @05:28PM (#72861)

      Where are mod points when I need them?

      This is an excellent point, that you can't compare a hectare of semi-arid pastureland with a hectare of fertile soil. Some of the land used for cattle production can't be put to more productive use.

      On the other hand, a lot of cattle are grain-fed so the land and water used to provide their feed *could* be used to produce other food instead.

      --
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      • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Thursday July 24 2014, @02:15AM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday July 24 2014, @02:15AM (#73081) Journal

        I agree and would just like to say that being in the middle of BF AR, surrounded by fricking cows and pastures allow me to say this...the land them cows are grazed on? You aren't doing jack shit with it OTHER than grazing animals, its just not good enough land to be worth it. All the land that was good enough to plant crops on? they planted crops ages ago while the land the cows are on is hilly, often strewn with rocks and old stumps, and when you actually dig into the soil even AFTER having decades of cow shit umped on it the only thing you'll grow there is weeds, its just not good dirt. With most of the pastures its just junk land that if you didn't put cows on it the only things it would be producing is snake and weeds.

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        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by dry on Thursday July 24 2014, @06:08AM

          by dry (223) on Thursday July 24 2014, @06:08AM (#73145) Journal

          Bison?

          • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Thursday July 24 2014, @06:58AM

            by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday July 24 2014, @06:58AM (#73150) Journal

            And what would you DO with them? They have the same footprint, same impact, only difference is not too many like the meat so you'll end up with a lot of rotting meat headed for the landfills.

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            • (Score: 2) by dry on Sunday July 27 2014, @04:12AM

              by dry (223) on Sunday July 27 2014, @04:12AM (#74316) Journal

              As I understand they are better at living on prairie type grasses and don't emit tons of methane. The few times I've eaten bison, I found it more similar to beef then anything and had no problem with the taste, I believe they were farm raised. Of course meat reflects the diet that grew the meat. I've had venison from sagebrush country and it was, well different.
              There's also goats and even sheep as examples of more efficient producers of meat and pretty good producers of milk (perhaps healthier).
              (funny enough playing on the radio is the blues song "goat meat ain't fit to eat")

              • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Wednesday July 30 2014, @12:14AM

                by Hairyfeet (75) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday July 30 2014, @12:14AM (#75319) Journal

                TYhe problem is their ultra low fat content makes them worthless for many dishes as you need a certain amount of fat to get things to mix correcty, also they are kinda "gamey" for want of a better term and while I personally like deer and gator there are many that just do not like the taste.

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    • (Score: 3, Informative) by dry on Thursday July 24 2014, @05:22AM

      by dry (223) on Thursday July 24 2014, @05:22AM (#73140) Journal

      The answer is in your comment, use the land for goats or sheep. The problem with cattle is that they use a lot of grain (including corn) to fatten up. It's rare to see grass fed beef for sale. Even goat milk is more digestible for many.