July 20th, 2011
How much do we love the Environmental Working Group? (So much!) Their new 2011 Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change ranks proteins by their carbon footprint. GOOD makes an astute comparison about the brilliant new resource, pointing out that it’s a lot like Seafood Watch for non-seafood protein. Yes, please.
The rankings are based on the carbon footprints of each protein over its entire lifecycle, including the fertilizers that went into growing animal feed, the energy used processing and packing the meat, and the gas burned hauling it across the country. (Note that only conventionally raised meat was taken into account.)
The guide is full of info graphics making it easy to read, pretty even. There are also tips for how meat eaters can adjust their carnivorous ways for better health and a healthier environment.
Having been a vegetarian for over eight years, I’ve gotta say, I can’t imagine going back. I love meat too much! That said, over the last year and a half we’ve greatly reduced the amount of meat we eat. It started with a commitment to only feed my children local, sustainably raised meat. Even in NYC, access to that meat—and keeping our groceries at a reasonable budget—have made it so that we only eat meat 2-3 times a week. (I’ve also been sticking with meat free packed lunches for the Hungry Boy; he gets some home roasted turkey tenderloin sandwiches about 3 times per month.)
Now when I eat my steak or sausage or chicken, I know it had a good life and was raised in harmony with, not at the cost of the environment. I can also relax knowing that my kids are eating meat and only meat. No ammonia sanitized scraps or icky hormones. It feels good even though I eat some of my favorite dishes less frequently.
Check out the guide and consider how you might adjust your family’s meat eating habits for better health and a better world.