Rumors are rife that beef production is bad for the planet, but how truthful are they? These days people can be heard saying, “Go vegan, save the planet!” But these claims are worth investigating.
Firstly, livestock provides much more than just meat. Most people are unaware that there are actually 185 uses for a pig ranging from cement to renewable energy, paint to brushes, and even life-saving pharmaceuticals. In addition, there are several byproducts that come from cattle.
Hundreds of millions of animals go to market annually for food, but once we consider all the products they produce for us, it is quite extraordinary to know that generally, no part of any animal goes to waste.
Secondly, animal manure fertilizes fruits and vegetables. Without livestock and their poop, we might not have nearly enough produce to feed the planet.
But even more significantly, agriculture actually only causes 8% of greenhouse gas emissions, with just 2 % of that coming from cattle. This is much lower than that contributed by many other industries. According to the EPA, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions arise from electricity production, 26 % from transportation, and 21 % originate from industries that are dependent on burning fossil fuels for energy.
A Netflix movie called “Cowspiracy,” is all about a conspiracy theory rooted in an obsolete retracted “study” to push a “go vegan” plan by people asking for donations who don’t share the real truth about the livestock industry. Leonardo DiCaprio is among the executive producers, and the program shows that fear sells. Maybe if one wants to learn about agriculture, you should talk to farmers, animal scientists, and agronomists instead of a Hollywood celebrity.
Michelle Miller from Farm Babe says, “There is nothing wrong with someone who chooses to not eat meat, but let’s make sure the facts are correct about the actual carbon footprint for livestock and that all the other products we get from them are taken into consideration. We all use animal byproducts every day and probably don’t even know it”.
A portion of agriculture is “carbon neutral,” and even the resources needed for livestock are naturally occurring or recycled. For instance, methane can be converted into renewable energy, or manure is added into the soil for fertilizer and nutrients. “Cow Power” i.e. the process of recycling methane into a renewable form of energy, is fast becoming more popular and has already reduced the carbon footprint of California equivalent to taking away 40,000 cars off the road. United Airlines is even preparing to power some of its airplanes with recycled agricultural biofuel.
Miller agrees that climate change is real, and it’s vital updated FAO reports and additional university studies to always be looking for ways to mitigate it and our carbon footprint. She considers this to be a large part of a farmer occupation.
She cites updated FAO reports and additional university studies to conclude, “After comparing all of the delicious protein and byproducts we get from the domestication of these incredible animals to the actual statistics, we can clearly see that going meat free isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be”.