For a Greener Earth
Compare the Carbon Footprint of a Vegan Burger to a Beef Burger
Sample Results & Summary
Total Carbon Footprint of various food types according to GWP100
Example of GHG savings (prevented) due to global switch from meat to plant-based meat analogs
Carbon Footprint of Food:
Stopping Climate Change with Diet Change?
Overview and Summary
This summary presents an overview of WPF’s latest report evaluating the Carbon Footprint of plant- versus animal-based protein sources of nutrition. The findings are compelling as they demonstrate the exceptional and significant GHG reductions a worldwide shift from plant- to animal-based proteins would entail. The full report (with references) and corresponding presentation will be available for download on the World Preservation Foundation website in March 2011. Summary here follows:
The quest for sustainable consumption
One of the most effective ways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions – along with the recent series of weather-related disasters spurred by climate change – is to adopt sustainable lifestyles via heightened consumer awareness. Policies aimed at sustainable living and consumption patterns are increasingly focusing on this challenge, with the insights gained through the carbon footprint of various food products in particular gaining greater awareness and emphasis of address.
The efficacy of the Carbon Footprint (CF) metric
Carbon Footprint (CF), which quantifies the global warming impacts of products from a life cycle perspective, has gained prominence as a holistic approach, where environmental or ecological protection promotes the idea of carbon emission accounting from the very beginning of a product’s life, rather than a simplistic (and narrow) perspective of the control of emission towards the end. CF methodology has developed from (and involves) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), an ISO-standardized environmental accounting tool applied in research and industry for systematically monitoring the inventory of materials, resources and energy inputs and emission outputs to air, water and land associated with each stage of a given product life cycle.
Methodology of evaluating plant-based and livestock production systems’ CF
For the five plant-based agricultural systems (potatoes, corn, tomatoes, rice, soybean and peas –of which meat analogs are also composed), the total CF is calculated according to:
- Fertilizer input is allocated to the final output of 1 kg crop/cereal/vegetable product
- Emissions of N2O due to fertilizers usage at farms, based on (1)
- Energy requirements and associated emissions for farming operations are allocated to the final output of 1 kg crop/cereal/vegetable product
- Farming operations in (3) include cultivation, harvesting, milling, cooling and packaging. It assumed that no freezing is necessary
- Nitrogen-based fertilizer inputs, which make up 70% of fertilizer usage in agriculture.
For the beef, pork and chicken production systems, the total CF is calculated according to:
- Feed input is allocated according to the final output of 1 kg meat product
- Energy requirements for the total feed required for each animal is adjusted to (1)
- Energy requirements and associated emissions for farming operations are allocated according to the final output of 1 kg meat product
- GHG from livestock are based on 1 kg (bone-free and ready to cook) meat output
- Energy requirements for all slaughterhouse and meat processing activities, and their associated GHGs, are allocated according to the final output of 1 kg meat
Overall, the CF for all meals derived from meat analogs or plants are less carbon intensive, compared to meat-based meals. Goodland and Anhang (2009) projected that meat and dairy analogs will not only help to slow climate change but will also ease the global food crisis. This is because meat analogs (comprising various crop-proteins; the full details of the analog constituents are presented in the full report) require a much smaller quantity of resources to produce any given number of calories. The bar chart shows that GHG emissions from meat analogs options are comparatively minimal, with the graphic illustrating how a simple switch from a selected meat-based meal to meat analog meal saves a total of over 26 billion tons of CO2-eq. Such GHG savings actually come from diverting tremendous amounts of resource, land, and energy use away from livestock within the meat food production chain, together with subsequent nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) emissions prevention.
Mondays are the new Frydays!
Go vegetarian for 24 hours every week – it is the easiest way for every South African to make a difference to the planet.
On 13 September 2010, South Africa saw the official launch of the global Meat Free Monday’s campaign, which urges all South Africans to pledge their support and make a difference by not eating meat, fish or chicken every Monday.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet,” said Albert Einstein.
Fry’s in association with WESSA, Animal Rights Africa, Animal Anti Cruelty League, Beauty Without Cruelty, the South Africa Vegan Society and Vegan SA launched Meat Free Mondays in South Africa.
Go to www.supportmfm.co.za to Support Meat Free Mondays or sms the letters MFM and your name and email address to 34007. Sms charged at R2 per SMS. All those who pledge their support for Meat Free Monday’s will receive a personalized pledge certificate.
Also available to purchase on the site, with all proceeds going to charity, are a vegetarian and vegan recipe book, Meat Free Monday recycled shopping bags and Meat Free Monday supporter wrist bands. All items cost R25 excluding VAT but include delivery in South Africa.
Livestock and Climate Change
by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang
Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs, and chickens?
The environmental impact of the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food has been vastly underestimated, and in fact accounts for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs), according to Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change”.
A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.
Why it’s green to go vegetarian
There were approximately 6.5 billion people living on earth in 2005 and as the world’s population continues to grow, our requirement for food will also increase. Click here to read more.
Eating meat is one of the greatest causes of global warming. By eating lower on the food chain – ideally, an-all-plant-based diet — humankind can take an essential and enormous step in reducing global warming. A 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow (www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448) concludes that global animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gas emissions (in CO2 equivalents), an astonishing 18 percent of the total, more than all forms of transportation. Furthermore, the global warming potential and effect of these gases is more striking since methane and nitrous oxide are 23 and 296 times more harmful than carbon dioxide. A University of Chicago study found that the average American diet, including all food processing steps, annually produces 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent more than a meat-free diet.
Environment and Humanitarianism
The world is currently raising over 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter each year and, in addition to its major impact on global warming, this is contributing significantly to the destruction of tropical rainforests and other valuable habitats, rapid species extinction, soil erosion and depletion and other environmental threats. Because of its high degree of inefficiency compared to plant protein production, animal agriculture is disproportionately depleting the planet’s dwindling reserves of fresh water, land, fuel, and other resources. More than ½ of the maize we grow goes to animal feedlots, while 1 child dies every 45 minutes from malnutrition-related sickness. It requires 500 times as much land to produce 1kg beef as 1kg vegetables. 30kg vegetation is needed to produce 1kg beef. Protein derived from meat requires 25 times more energy to produce than comparable protein from grain. 250 l water needed to produce 1kg wheat; 25000 l water needed to produce 1 kg meat!