About a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. First, here’s the hierarchy of meats (well, proteins) in terms of impact on the environment:
Greenhouse Gas Emission, by Protein
Bringing lamb into human mouths involves a superfluity of greenhouse gas. Lamb isn’t a major player in U.S. meat markets, but the runner-up, beef, is huge.
Farming cattle produces about four times as much greenhouse gas as does poultry or fish. If livestock are basically just converters of grain to meat, cattle and their four stomachs might be the work of Rube Goldberg—cool, but not every light switch needs to involve dominoes. Here’s how beef compares to chicken:
Greenhouse Gas Emission, Beef vs. Chicken
July is the pinnacle of the U.S. meat obsession, because of the cookouts, with all the burgers, steaks, meat fights, meat helmets, etc. Americans lead the world in meat consumption at 260 pounds per year (Europeans eat 190 pounds, and world-wide the average is more like 93 pounds).
*Image of “steak” via Shutterstock