CleanMetrics, EWG release meat impact report
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
A new guide for meat eaters offers emissions analysis of different protein choices.
A new analysis of the climate impact of food choices can be summed up quite simply: Rethink the cheeseburger.
After working with Portland-based CleanMetrics Corp. for more than a year on research and analysis, the Environmental Working Group on Monday released its "Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health." The report and guide provides a detailed analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production, processing, consumption and waste disposal in North America, including a deep dive on different meats.
The study found that lamb, beef and cheese have the largest carbon footprint and that fully 20 percent of food is discarded as waste. Beef generates more than twice the emissions of pork, nearly four times those of chicken and more than 13 times those of vegetable proteins such as beans or lentils.
The Environmental Working Group suggests that if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week over a year, the effect on emissions would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
Venkat said the emissions analysis yielded few surprises and dovetails with other research CleanMetrics has completed.
"We did a project at Portland State University to look at the full lifecycle impact of the campus dining service," Venkat said. "One-third of the emissions from the entire dining service comes from the beef that they purchase."
Because cows and sheep are ruminants, their digestion process generates methane gas, adding to the impact of processing, waste and transportation.
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