If you’ve ever looked into how you can reduce your carbon footprint you’ve likely heard time and again that the best way to do this is to reduce how much meat you consume. But what if you don’t want to? Can you still include meat in your diet sustainably?
I stopped eating meat almost 2 years ago but the other 3/4 of my house haven’t. We’ve introduced more meatless meals throughout the week, but we’ve also tried to find a more sustainable way to keep meat in their diet.
First, let’s look at why eating meat is so environmentally costly. Farming animals is environmentally damaging because it requires a lot of land, a lot of water, and it relies on a lot of additional land to grow the animal’s food. Most of the world’s soy is grown to feed animals.
The greater our demand for animals, the more methane gas production. I saw one source list animal waste as responsible for just shy of 15% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than all of the cars on the road!
So how do we reduce this without eliminating meat entirely?
1. Eat less meat. This one is no shocker. Introduce meatless meals once or twice a week. You might actually enjoy the variety of alternative protein sources.
2. Choose less resource-intensive meats. Cows and sheep generally are the most resource heavy in terms of food, water, and land, and they produce the most methane gas. Fowl (chicken & turkey) seem to produce the least, and require less food and water to raise. But it’s worth noting that there are still issues with the amount of waste they produce and the energy used in slaughtering them.
3. Support small farms that practice regenerative agriculture. Besides scaling back on how much meat our family eats, we decided to ditch supermarket meats. My husband hunts a few times a year so we have wild game (pheasant and a deer) in our freezer. Additionally, we decided this year to split a pig with a friend, meaning half of one animal will likely last us all year. We know where our food came from. We know it was humanely raised or lived wild. We know we are no longer supporting large scale livestock farming.
4. Support local farms. If you can reduce the amount of distance your food has to travel to get to your table, that’s also a win.
Are there other ways you incorporate sustainability into your diet? I’d love to hear!