Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meat eater's carbon footprint and health risks

From the AMA newsletter:

Susan Carpenter wrote in the "Greenspace" column of The Los Angeles Times (7/18) that the Environmental Working Group has released a Meat Eater's Guide, which "includes a chart that shows the carbon footprint of each food, equating the consumption of four ounces of each item with its equivalent in car miles driven." The report says that lamb, beef, and cheese have the biggest carbon footprints out of 20 protein sources surveyed. "While the report acknowledges that meat, when eaten in moderation, provides healthy and complete proteins and other nutrients, it cites a 2009 National Cancer Institute study that found people who ate the most red meat were 27% more likely to die of heart disease than those who ate the least."

In his blog in the New York Times (7/18), Mark Bittman observed that, according to the Meat Eater's Guide, "if everyone in the US 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." The report also notes that "even if everyone in the US went 'vegetarian' -- that is, eliminated meat but continued to eat dairy at our current rate -- it would make only a small (though significant) dent in overall emissions. The subsequent recommendation is that to significantly reduce emissions we all have to lobby our elected officials to adopt a comprehensive energy and climate policy that puts the US on a path to green energy."

According to the Huffington Post (7/19, Pearson), the National Cancer Institute reported that "serious meat eaters were 20 percent more likely to die of cancer than those who consumed the least amount of meat."