Adeela Hameed

Carbon Footprint of Meat Industries

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Food-print, or food’s carbon footprint, is the GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions produced by growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing food we eat.Transport, food and housing have the three largest carbon footprints. Food produces nearly 8 tons of emissions per household, or about 17%.Meat, cheese and eggs have the highest footprint but fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans, much lower. Moving towards a vegetarian diet has a large impact on our personal carbon footprint. It is to be noted that the carbon footprint of a vegan diet is about half that of a non-vegan diet.

The Idea of Clean Meat

It all started with a hamburger!!

A hamburger which was grown entirely outside an animal’s body by a Professor of Vascular Physiology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Mark Post.

In a procedure similar to a biopsy, Prof. Post and his team utilized stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue to grow the burger. The cells were then put in a solution of bovine serum taken from unborn calves. These then received food, hormones, and other elements naturally needed to grow. Over a period of few weeks, these cells multiplied and continued to form thin strips of muscle. It took about 20,000 of such strips to make 1 patty. The project cost nearly $330,000.

Taste testers approved of this product and proclaimed it was very meaty. Much of red meat’s taste actually comes from its fat content. This did not exist in the lab-grown burger, complicating the job of meat creators as it is difficult to create two types of tissues in the lab.

According to livestock researchers, animal agriculture uses 30% of all land, 25% of all freshwater on the Earth, and creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all of the world’s automobiles, both air and land combined. Hence, procedures and technologies are developing such that this excess is reduced to a contained value, hence acting as saviour of our planet. Without the use of antibiotics, a large environmental footprint, excess contamination and animal slaughter which comes with conventional meat production, clean meat involves taking a sample of animal cells and replicating them outside of the animal.

Adopting a Vegetarian Diet

A research, led by scientists at Oxford Martin School, found that shifting to a mostly vegetarian diet, or even cutting down meat consumption to within accepted health guidelines, would result in a large loss to GHGs. Widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63% and following health guidelines on meat consumption could reduce food-related global emissions by nearly a third by 2050.

“We do not expect everybody to become vegan. But the climate change impacts of the food system will require more than just technological changes. Adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets can be a large stop in the right direction” said Dr Marco Springmann, lead author of the study, entitled Analysis And Valuation of the Health and Climate Change Co-Benefits of Dietary Change.

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