A recent study found that if everyone in America switched from eating any form of beef and instead substituted beans that America would meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emission goals pledged in 2009. Note that this still allows for consumption of all other types of meat and dairy.
How is this so? A few interesting livestock facts:
- Producing meat is very inefficient from a resource and labor perspective. Cows and other livestock eat plants – such as corn and beans. These plants are grown, using water and fertilizer. Then the animals eat them. Then we eat the animals. In other words, it’s more efficient to grow a crop and eat it than to grow a crop, feed it to an animal as it builds up muscle mass, then eat the animal.
- According to the United Nations, 33 percent of arable land on Earth is used to grow feed for livestock. 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of Earth is used for grazing livestock. So, about a third of land on earth is used to produce meat.
- If Americans traded beef for beans it would free up 42 percent of crop land.
- The livestock sector contributes 14.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A major way livestock creates GHG is via methane produced during digestion by ruminant animals (I.e. Cow belching and flatulence).