Meat, health, and planet

The Environmental Working Group has released a new report. Working with CleanMetrics, they assessed the rates of greenhouse gases emitted by 20 types of proteins (meat, fish, dairy, and vegetable sources). Here’s the take-home message  : “Lamb, beef, pork and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases. They also tend to be high in fat and have the worst environmental impacts.”

I love it when experts not only give you the worrisome news, they show you practical steps you can take to respond. From EWG’s exhortation to “Eat ‘greener’ meat when you do eat it,” I’ve condensed some key recommendations:

For your health:
Avoid highly processed meats like lunchmeats, hot dogs, and smoked meats.
Choose leaner cuts, which may have fewer toxins than fatty ones

For the animals:
Choose certified humanely raised. You don’t want to participate in the torture perpetrated by factory farms! Niman Ranch, which began forty years ago north of San Francisco, has grown to partner with over 650 independent ranchers and states that all its animals are raised humanely.

For the environment:
Avoid farmed and airfreighted fish. Well, we in the Bay Area have access to local fish, so the air freight has less relevance here. But what about endangered species? What about. Monterey Bay Aquarium has a list here.

And of course, the most powerful recommendation of all is, “Eat less meat and dairy.”

This report and its website version are goldmines of information. For instance, you can find out which part of the life cycle of a given product made the heaviest environmental impact. Weird fact: “Roughly 20 percent of all meat sold in the U.S. winds up in the trash. That makes the pesticides, fertilizer, fuel and water used to produce and process it, as well as the resulting greenhouse gases and environmental damage, unnecessary and preventable.”

For the full report, go here.


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