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1 LIMIT CONSUMPTION OF RED MEAT

This action focuses on reducing the energy and greenhouse gases associated with red meat by limiting consumption to one serving every two weeks.

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why?

There is a strong argument that what you eat matters at least as much as how far it travels. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO), a household that substitutes red meat and dairy products consumption for vegetable-based protein for just one day could achieve the same GHG mitigation benefits as if they had bought all their weekly food from local providers and avoided the energy used for transport (FAO). A report done by the Worldwatch Institute conveys the following:

“...agriculture’s overwhelming “hotspots” are red meat and dairy production. In part that’s due to the inefficiency of eating higher up on the food chain-it takes more energy, and generates more emissions, to grow grain, feed it to cows, and produce meat or dairy products for human consumption, than to feed grain to humans directly. But a large portion of emissions associated with meat and dairy production take the form of methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that are respectively 23 and 296 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Methane is produced by ruminant animals (cows, goats, sheep, and the like) as a byproduct of digestion, and is also released by the breakdown of all types of animal manure. Nitrous oxide also comes from the breakdown of manure (as well as the production and breakdown of fertilizers). Red meat specifically is responsible for about 150 percent more emissions than chicken and fish.

“No matter how it is measured, on average red meat is more GHG-intensive than all other forms of food” (Tara Garnett, via Worldwatch Institute).

Changing to a diet low in red meat and milk products can be an effective means of lowering a household's carbon and energy footprint.

The 2011 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) report, ‘Energy-Smart Food for People and Climate’ breaks down just how much animal feed is required to produce 1 kg of the following products:

Animal Feed Required to Produce 1 kg
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Chicken 4.2 kg/kg edible meat 25-35 MJ/kg meat
Pork 10.7kg/kg edible meat 25-70 MJ/kg meat
Beef (feedlots) 31.7 kg/kg edible meat 80-100 MJ/kg meat
Laying hens 4.2kg/kg eggs 450-500 MJ/year
Dairy milk 0.7kg/litre milk 5-7 MJ/litre of fresh milk

Although lower on the food chain, vegetable and grain crops still require energy to be produced. Much of this energy is embodied in the nitrogen fertilizers used as well as diesel fuel. However, the estimates for the agricultural production of plants is much lower. For example, wheat production is estimated to consume 3.9 MJ/kg of food, almost 1/8th the average of the lowest-energy consuming meat products.

“Broadly speaking, eating fewer meat and dairy products and consuming more plant foods in their place is probably the single most helpful behavioral shift one can make to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions,” Garnett argues.

For those not willing to give up red meat entirely, there is a compelling counter-argument in eating only grass-fed beef. Find out more in the Replace Feedlot Meat with Grass-Fed Beef action.


how to do this action:

American Meat Institute

Annual Per Capita Meat Consumption

Data from the American Meat Institute shows per capita consumption of red meat, poultry and fish was 200.4 pounds. Slightly over half (55%) of all meat consumed was red meat (beef, veal, lamb, mutton and pork), poultry comprised 36.7 percent and fish comprised 8.2 percent (American Meat Institute).

This action focuses on limiting meat consumption, specifically red meat, and asks participants to limit their red meat consumption to one meal per week.

Use alternative protien sources; poultry, fish, seafood, beans/legumes and even greens.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: With 36-45 MJ energy required to produce 1 lb of beef, how much energy can be reduced by limiting consumption of red meat to only one meal per week?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of limiting consumption of red meat to one meal per week affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (F1_BASELINE) to track how many meals per day red meat was eaten and the amount.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (F1_BASELINE) as it relates to your current diet and meat eating practices:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (F1_QUANTITATIVE) to track meals each day. Record when red meat was eaten and in what quantities, with the goal of limiting red meat consumption to one meal per week.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria, every IMPLEMENTATION day on the spreadsheet (F1_QUALITATIVE) Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. How did this change the way you ate? What other sources of protein did you consume in place of red meat? How did this change/not change your quality of life?


resources

(USDA) Profiling Food Consumption in America (2001-2002)
American Meat Institute
ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

F1_Limit Consumption of Red Meat Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

F1_BASELINE
F1_QUANTITATIVE
F1_QUALITATIVE