Beef Isn’t Great for the Environment

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beef is bad for the planet most of us
know that what’s less known however is
the ditching hamburgers isn’t going to make
much of a difference because of ground beef
isn’t the problem that’s the topic of
this week’s healthcare triage
before we get to the environment, let’s
get the health stuff out of the way
first the potentially unhealthful
effects of eating red meat are so small
that they may be of little clinical
significance for many people this
finding recently released in multiple
articles in the annals of internal
medicine is sure to be controversial it
should certainly not be interpreted as
licensed to eat as much meat as you like
but the scope of the work is expansive
and it confirms prior work that the
evidence against meat isn’t nearly as
solid as many seem to believe while I
had no role in the research I did
co-write a commentary about it in the
journal red meat has been vilified more
than almost any other food yet studies
have shown that while moderation is
important meat can certainly be part of
a healthy diet this doesn’t mean that
there aren’t other reasons to eat less
meat some point out that the way in
which cattle are raised and consumed are
unethical others argue that eating red
meat is terrible for the environment
recently meat substitutes of emerged as
a possible solution but the promise is
much greater than the reality at least
so far Burger King and other fast food
chains are trying out impossible foods
burgers as a vegan answer to beef and we
should dispense as we did last week that
this is healthier in any way the
impossible whopper is six hundred thirty
calories versus a traditional whopper
six sixty it also contains similar
amounts of saturated fat protein and
more sodium and carbohydrates and no one
should think they’re improving their
health by making the switch what about
the environment argument almost 30% of
the world’s ice-free land is used to
raise livestock we grow a lot of crops
to feed animals and we cut down a lot of
forests to do that but beef far more
than pork or chicken contributes to
environmental harm in part because of it
requires much more land the greenhouse
gas production per serving of chicken or
pork is about 20% that of a serving of
beef cows also put out an enormous
amount of methane causing almost 10% of
anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions
and contributing to climate change
there’s been a lot of hope that beyond
meat pee protein or impossible burgers
soy could serve as a beef burger
substitutes reducing the need for cows
that’s unlikely to happen according to
Sarah Taber a crop scientist and food
system specialist ground beef
is not the problem steak is I’m quoting
her here there’s no profit to be made in
ground beef that all comes either from
leftover parts once cattle have been
slaughtered for more expensive cuts or
from dairy cattle that have outlived
their usefulness if everyone gave up
hamburgers tomorrow the same number of
cows would still be raised and need to
be fed in other words to improve the
environment by reducing the number of
cows slaughtered we’d need to find a way
to replace the many other cuts of beef
Americans enjoy no lab, and no company is
close to that to greatly reduce the
reliance on Cal’s we’d also need to wean
ourselves from our high level of milk
consumption of the increasing use of
alternative milk like oats or soy could
help but the dairy industry still
dominates and the dairy industry’s
claims about the health of its product
or somewhat overblown milk isn’t nearly
as necessary for health as many belief
as we’ve talked about before some
companies are researching ways to
replace the more complex cuts of meat
the drive at the market these companies
aren’t replacing beef with substitutes
they’re trying to grow it in the lab
using stem cells
tomorrow hospital who writes on Food
Policy for The Washington Post has said
such advances are not likely coming soon
nor is it clear that they would have an
overall positive impact unless we are
sure that this meat can be made in a
more energy-efficient way than we can
raise cattle if meat substitutes won’t
help in the short run other things still
might some believe that raising cattle
on pastures from birth until slaughter
might sequester carbon in the soil
better than having cows finish their
growth on feedlots
researchers at the University of Florida
argue that it can also be profitable for
farmers and warmer climates to do just
it would require the cattle industry to
make significant changes as well as to
relocate, and it seems unlikely they’d be
willing to do that dr. Tabor says the
grass feeding cattle without grain is
the norm in New Zealand but almost no
one in the United States does it’s also
worth pointing out that it would
probably take longer to raise cows this
way giving them more time to make
methane other new developments could
help with that problem some are proposed
farming insects to make animal feed and
feeding seaweed to cows even in small
amounts can significantly reduce their
methane burps one problem with seaweed
is that the component that helps reduce
methane emissions
is classified as a carcinogen by the
Environmental Protection Agency it’s
present in small amounts in seaweed
though and humans have been eating
seaweed safely for a long time as dr.
Taber told me to picture a seaweed formed
the size of Manhattan until people are
truly ready to reduce consumption of
dairy or use of higher-end beef
cuts or to commit to raising cattle
differently, it seems unlikely that any
of the changes concerning ground
the meat will make a significant
the environmental difference in the near
future that doesn’t mean there’s nothing
we can do, I asked dr. Taber what we
might advise people right now to help
with the environment, she said who needs
steak when there’s bacon and fried
chicken Haeju enjoy this episode always
helps if you subscribe or like down
below you should also watch last week’s
the chapter we went into the details of why
these meat substitutes aren’t
necessarily better for your health we’d
also, like you to consider going to slash healthcare triage
we’re like our research associate Joe
sevens and our surgeon Admiral Sam you
too can support the show help make
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4 thoughts on “Beef Isn’t Great for the Environment

  1. In general, red meats (beef, pork and lamb) have more saturated (bad) fat than chicken, fish and vegetable proteins such as beans. Saturated and trans fats can raise your blood cholesterol and make heart disease worse. The unsaturated fats in fish, such as salmon, actually have health benefits. Beef is a rich source of high-quality protein and various vitamins and minerals. As such, it can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.

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