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Right Now, Less Cow Featured on Jun 08, 2010
Are you a meat lover? Give it a rest! Don't eat any meat for two days this week.
By not eating meat two days this week, you will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 13.2 lbs.
15065 people have reduced CO2 emissions by 97.69 tons by completing this challenge so far. That's equal to turning off the electricity of 136 homes for about 1 month!
Your doctor has asked you to eat less meat. Your wallet has asked you to eat less meat. Now your friends here at Carbonrally are asking you to eat less meat. Sounds like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? It isn’t. As always, there’s a carbon connection. It’s time you were fed the facts on meat’s place at the climate crisis table.
Again this week, the Featured Challenge comes from our Challenge Workshop. This one was suggested by davidc and has received 8 positive votes. We would also like to give credit to Kathryn for her suggestion to go whole hog (just a figure of speech) and become a vegetarian. Well done!
The Carbon Connection
Everyone’s gone meat crazy. On average, Americans eat about 200 pounds of meat every year. That’s an increase of around 50 pounds per year since 1960 and the trend shows little signs of stopping. Worldwide, meat consumption is expected to double in the next 50 years. Unfortunately, aside from the harmful effects on personal health and Earth’s natural resources, this meat pig-out carries with it a massive impact on climate change. As much as 22% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture and nearly 80% of that figure can be directly attributed to livestock production.
Livestock already uses 30% of Earth’s ice-free land either as pasture or as cropland used to grow feed for the livestock. Half of the cropland in the United States is used to feed livestock. The need for additional land for pasture is responsible for deforestation. In Latin America, more than 70% of forests have been converted to pastures for grazing livestock.
Planting, fertilizing and harvesting grain like corn to feed livestock requires a lot of energy. And, given that it takes about 7 pounds of grain to grow 1 pound of beef, we can start to see how choosing meat over veggies is far more costly in terms of energy and CO2.
And that’s not the end of it. Energy is needed to transport livestock to meat processing plants. Energy is needed at the packing plants to produce and package the meat. And then more energy is needed to transport the meat from packing plants to your grocery. Almost all of that energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the meat you eat probably isn’t coming from a farm just down the road. The United States is the world’s largest importer of beef, with most of that coming from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
When you eat less meat, you save fossil fuel and keep more greenhouse gases out of Earth’s atmosphere.
Getting It Done
Take a deep breath. Relax. We’re not asking you to become a vegetarian (although you can if you want to). We’re just asking you to try eating less meat than the average American normally does. According to a recent study by University of Chicago researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, even small reductions in the amount of meat in a diet correlates to large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Still think you need help meeting this Challenge? Here are a few simple suggestions:
- Don’t starve — substitute! This Challenge isn’t asking you to stop eating for two days, but rather to just avoid eating meat for those days. There are plenty of alternatives, and cheese, eggs and milk are fair game. Don’t worry that you won’t be getting enough protein! The average American is already getting about 110 grams of protein per day, which is about twice the amount recommended by the latest version of the USDA food pyramid.
- If you’re out at a restaurant, take a closer look at the menu. Many restaurants have meatless meal choices on their menus.
- And if you’re cooking at home, you don’t need to invest in a vegetarian cookbook in order to come up with meatless dinner ideas. Get on your computer and surf on over to All Recipes.com or Vegetarian Kitchen to find ideas, tips, and recipes.
- Don’t give yourself the option: buy less meat at the grocery next week. Considering that meat is probably the most expensive item in your shopping cart, you’ll be saving big bucks and can afford to buy a nice bread from the bakery or maybe even a bottle of Chardonnay.
- Finally, don’t substitute fish for one of your meats. Many large fish, such as swordfish and tuna, are caught far from shore and are transported great distances to get to your plate. The carbon emissions associated with transporting the fish are significant enough to count the fish as a meat to be avoided.
Have you already cut down on your meat intake? How have you convinced your traditional “meat and potatoes” family members to eat less meat? Please share your thoughts, experiences, and tasty meat alternatives with your fellow hungry Rallyers in the Challenge forum section below.
Rules of the Challenge
This Challenge asks you to not eat any meat for two days in one week. Skip the breakfast sausage. Don’t have that turkey club sandwich for lunch. And have fun exploring your meatless dinner options. By not eating meat for those two days, you will reduce your CO2 emissions by 13.2 lbs for the week. This Challenge lasts for one week and is repeatable.
See the Math
We’re a bit sheepish about this, but the math for this Challenge is too involved to show here. We have based the following on the 2006 University of Chicago study:
- Doing without any meat for one full day every week results in reductions of 340 lbs CO2 per person per year. That equals 6.6 lbs CO2 per week.
- This Challenge is to do without any meat for two days this week. So we double the above number to get 13.2 lbs CO2 per week.
- For the purposes of this Challenge, we are not identifying what types of meat you are eating or what types of meat you are likely to do without during the Challenge. Eating less meat — any meat — is a good thing. However, if you have a choice, eat less beef for this Challenge. Carbon emissions associated with beef production are many times greater than that associated with pork and chicken.
- There is an assumption that enough people eating less meat will lead to a proportional decrease in carbon emissions linked to meat production.
Of course, now our stomachs are grumbling here at Rally Control. So, we’re off to get a slice of cheese pizza and an apple. What are you going to eat this week?
Save the Cow, Save the World.
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