Give Up Steak, Save the Planet

Michael Walsh04 Apr, 2020 2 Min Read
More lemongrass, less gas!

File under "They never stop, they never sleep, they never quit." The Economist, which used to be a well-written, well-respected British newsweekly, has latterly taken a sharp and unapologetic turn to the Green Left, for whom nothing you do is beyond their scrutiny and scold. Plus, you're going to die. Case in point:

How much would giving up meat help the environment?

Going vegan for two-thirds of meals could cut food-related carbon emissions by 60%

People who want to eat less livestock—but who can’t quite bring themselves to exchange burgers for beans—might take inspiration from two recent academic papers. A study published this week by scientists at Oxford University and the University of Minnesota estimates both the medical and environmental burdens of having an extra serving per day of various food types. The health findings were sobering. Compared with a typical Western adult of the same age who eats an average diet, a person who guzzles an additional 50g of processed red meat (about two rashers of bacon) per day has a 41% higher chance of dying in a given year.

Meat has an even starker impact on the environment. Compared with a 100g portion of vegetables—the standard serving size considered in academic papers—a 50g chunk of red meat is associated with at least 20 times as much greenhouse-gas emitted and 100 times as much land use. Averaged across all the ecological indicators the authors used, red meat was about 35 times as damaging as a bowl of greens.

You just knew there was a "but" coming...

However, a newly converted vegetarian who replaces every 50g of beef she usually eats with 100g of kale would soon be famished. A standard portion of greens contains far fewer calories than a slab of meat. So an aspiring herbivore would have to eat far more servings of salad than the number of burgers she has forsaken.

In the Green New World, people will graze the fields where cows once farted freely, gulping down twice their body weight or more in yummy shoots and leaves, and then dying of malnutrition. After which, in the name of ecology, they can be easily converted into...

Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. His latest book, Last Stands, a study of military history from the Greeks to the present, will be published by St. Martin's Press in December. Follow him on Twitter @dkahanerules

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4 comments on “Give Up Steak, Save the Planet”

  1. Cows eat grass and/or corn, therefore cows are vegan.
    I eat cow,
    cows are made of vegetables,
    therefore I too am vegan.

  2. Wait?
    If I give up 2/3rds (66.6%) of an activity, I will only lower an outcome 60%?
    That's not efficient, at all.

  3. I just pan fried a two and a half inch tenderloin steak, rare. If giving up steak will save the planet, then don't depend on me because I'm going to cooking many more before the end comes. Kiss my a$$.

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