STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Reduce Meat Consumption

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
By trimming the meat in your diet, you can reduce the amount of water and energy resources that are embedded in your meals. Here’s how: the number of calories needed to raise a chicken, pig, or cow and then deliver it to your dinner plate is much higher than the number of calories that we get from the meat. Think of it this way: if you eat a mostly grain-based diet, then you need only a sack-full of grain to feed you; if your diet is meat-centered, then you need a huge truck of grain to feed the animal that will in turn feed you. For instance, it takes between 7 and 13 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. Eat further down the food-chain and you’ll be living lighter on the Earth.

Tips & Tricks
Try meat-substitutes. These can be made of soy, wheat-gluten, or tempeh, and run the gamut from “Smart Bacon” to “Soy-sage” to “Meatless deli slices.” Many supermarket have a whole refrigerator section devoted to these meat-free creations. Test some out and find the ones you like best.

Don’t go cold-turkey. If you can’t eliminate, reduce. If you choose not to cut that favorite meat dish out of your routine, try saving it for special occasions, or once a week, or whatever plan makes sense for you. If you start by slowly reducing, you may eventually decide to stop altogether.

Try grass-fed, antibiotic-free, and free-range meats. These are better options to conventionally-produced meat. They reduce or eliminate many of the negative ecological and health side-effects of meat.

Web & Print Resources
Fake meat resources:
www.slate.com/?id=2059720 (taste testing and rankings)
www.seeveggiesdifferently.com
www.bocaburger.com/index.aspx
www.yvesveggie.com/
www.lightlife.com/

Vegetarian protein sources:
www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm
www.happycow.net/vegetarian_protein.html

Better meat: pasture-raised, hormone-free:
www.sustainabletable.org/issues/pasture/

Concentrated animal feedlot operations:
www.factoryfarm.org/whatis/
www.factoryfarm.org/resources/photos/

Books:
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan

Fun Facts

It takes 7 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef. Source

12,000 gallons of water sustain 1 pound of beef—enough for 250 showers. Source

For comparison, it takes about 108 gallons of water to grow 1 pound of wheat. Source