Beef, Climate Change, and the Future of International Trade Agreements
July 23, 2019 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Instead of hoping for a motivated billionaire to hack the planet to stave off climate change (previously), we could combat climate change by cutting beef (and lamb) production (CNN, Nov. 2018). "Beef is widely recognized as the most climate-damaging of all foods" (CNN, Nov. 2015). 25% of the land in the United State used for grazing cattle, and pastures account for 71.6% of land use after deforestation in South America (Mongabay News, May 2016). "Across the globe, beef consumption is seeing rapid growth, fed by cheap imports and served by an industrialized agricultural global trade model that's been linked to a host of environmental impacts, climate change chief among them" (Pacific Standard Magazine, Oct. 2017).
posted by filthy light thief (54 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
In response to the 2015 CNN article, Food Integrity noted that U.S. production is getting more efficient, and WRI has a summary of why beef is more resource-intensive than other foods.

Still, it may be too little too late, as a study in 2014 indicated that two glaciers that make up Antarctica, Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier, had likely crossed a tipping point, so maybe we should ask billionaires to fire up the desalinization plants and mega snow blowers (Ars Technica, July 2019).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:29 AM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


And yet, when the Weather Network posted a link to a video explaining the connection between beef and climate change, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association made them back down and promise never to make recommendations about diet again.
posted by zadcat at 7:32 AM on July 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


Fuck “But it tastes good”
posted by growabrain at 7:42 AM on July 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


In before "individual actions will have no impact on climate change, do what you want."
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:55 AM on July 23, 2019 [13 favorites]


In before "glad I'll be dead soon."
posted by No Robots at 7:57 AM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


This person I work with uses the above, "well I'll be dead soon" argument a lot, but I'm sitting over here like, dude I'm gonna see you in like a month and probably in 3 months as well so like in that amount of time would it really hurt you to just eat a few hamburgers less? "Soon": I call BS.
posted by erattacorrige at 8:05 AM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


super curious that the article mentions more pork / chicken and less beef / lamb.
feedlot beef is clearly no good but beef and lamb can be free range, no grain, ruminant animals, whereas modern agricultural chicken and pork require externally farmed grain feed inputs.

certainly volume of meat consumed needs to drop but i continue to believe that some sort of free-range grass eating protein robot (be it bison or duck or deer or goat or sheep or beef or ...) will beat a metal box full of stainless steel making tofu or impossible burgers.
posted by danjo at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'd be happy to see chicken and pork factory farms also disappear in a cloud of smoke as well.

If the volume of meat consumed drops far enough, take your pick of whatever free range protein robot best suits your ecosystem, but it's got to drop really, really far for that to be at all feasible.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:17 AM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


i continue to believe that some sort of free-range grass eating protein robot (be it bison or duck or deer or goat or sheep or beef or ...) will beat a metal box full of stainless steel making tofu or impossible burgers.

One major issue with beef is the time to maturity, which is how you get to significantly higher water usage per lb of beef compared to pork and chicken (Treehugger). Grazing beef has a higher carbon footprint than feedlot beef (CNN 2015 article), probably due to efficiencies of growing the feed versus animals foraging, possible predation, and other factors that make "free range beef" more carbon-expensive.

So if you cut out the middle man animal and make a plant-based protein patty, it's more efficient at a basic ingredient level. But there's also processing, transportation, and other elements to factor.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:33 AM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


free-range grass eating protein robot (be it bison or duck or deer or goat or sheep or beef or ...)

this doesn't scale for 8 billion people as an occasional food item - hell it doesn't scale for 1 billion as a luxury good.
posted by lalochezia at 9:00 AM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


We need the beef equivalent of "krab" made with invasive species ("bieph"?) Starch, fermented legumes, and pulverized nutria should do the trick -- or iguana for the South Florida recipe, a.k.a chicken of the trees. They could be harvested via AI-driven killbot. Also maybe a sinkhole-to-catfish-farm program.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think we might be at the very start of a tipping point with beef substitutes (Impossible Burger, Beyond Burger, etc.), similar to where we are with electric vehicles: The tech is very close to parity with the old "technology" and the barriers to mass adoption will be much more cultural than anything else. Like, who would have imagined Burger King rolling out a meatless Whopper nationally just a few years ago?
posted by gwint at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


We need the beef equivalent of "krab" made with invasive species ("bieph"?) Starch, fermented legumes, and pulverized nutria should do the trick -- or iguana for the South Florida recipe, a.k.a chicken of the trees.

I just dreamed a meat made of ants, mosquitoes, roaches, and vines! It takes all the terrible plants and animals and makes them delicious!
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:04 AM on July 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


you should see the data on coffee. Not quite beef but 2100 gallons of fresh water to make a gallon of coffee. Huge transit and Co2 supply chain footprint.

My wife is Norwegian, she was Ok giving up meat, but coffee is not in the discussion.
posted by French Fry at 9:09 AM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


> And yet, when the Weather Network posted a link to a video explaining the connection between beef and climate change, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association made them back down and promise never to make recommendations about diet again.

"...while nearly two-thirds of Canadians see fighting climate change as a top priority, half of those surveyed would not shell out more than $100 per year in taxes to prevent climate change, the equivalent of less than $9 a month. The findings point to a population that is both gravely concerned about the heating of the planet but largely unprepared to make significant sacrifices in order to stave off an environmental crisis."

This country is filled with people who probably spend $100/month at Tim Horton's, but will angrily vote against any politician who proposes raising taxes by one cent to help the environment.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:14 AM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: They could be harvested via AI-driven killbot
posted by Quindar Beep at 9:17 AM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not as effective as combating climate change as just cutting consumption, but there's some research into seaweeds that can cut cattle methane emissions by 90-60%. The scale is the problem. A whole lot of seaweed is required, but that could be good for local ocean acidification. May provide a lot of food if combined with something like vertical ocean farming.

Or just give up land meat and eat sea greens, oysters, clams, and mussels. But maybe useful during a transition.

In the United States at least, beef is pretty cultural in some regions. So that'd have to change... but think about all the industrial agricultural lobbying and advertising that also influences Federal regulation and perpetuates a beef eating culture. That'd have to change too... but its kind of a chicken and egg situation. You need at least enough individuals who understand and care about the threat to elect politicians who have the power to create change... but it's tough for individuals to even accept that beef and other meats aren't a fundamental piece of the American diet in the presence of all this advertising and meat lobbying.
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:22 AM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


I haven't look into the claims, but does anyone know how the pushback to the evils of beef stacks up? Books like Defending Beef by Nicolette Hahn Niman or Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth by Judith D. Schwartz or any other research?
posted by carrioncomfort at 9:26 AM on July 23, 2019


In before "individual actions will have no impact on climate change, do what you want."

But this post is a testament to the truth of that statement. The problems caused by the beef industry are systemic, stemming from, as the FPP puts it, an "industrialized agricultural global trade model" that includes policies regarding subsidies, taxes, tariffs, import laws, etc that enable the massive production and distribution of cheap beef. To actually have an impact on climate change those systemic issues will need to change. If policy choices were made to make beef more expensive to produce, distribute, and sell it would affect the entire industry while also resulting in a reduction of consumption.

It doesn't matter at all whether you choose to have a burger or not. Your individual actions have neither meaning nor value. They just serve as a way for you to pat yourself on the back and a cudgel to beat other people with. It's the liberal equivalent of conservatives addressing systemic poverty by decrying the individual purchasing choices of poor people.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:48 AM on July 23, 2019 [34 favorites]


So we have a freezer in the laundry room and every two years or so, we buy part of a cow, a pig and a lamb from a local farmer. The animals are grass-fed and antibiotic free and free-ranging in Sonoma county pastures, etc. We pay approximately $5.50 per pound for the meat after butchering fees. (My husband's a committed carnivore; getting him to go meat-free three days a week and to commit to animals that have not been factory-farmed is as good as we're going to get right now.)

Last year, I noticed my "bad" cholesterol had climbed from ridiculously low to high-normal, and was all, "Maybe I should eat less red meat?" and started researching my options for bulk-buying free-range, grass-fed poultry. I literally cannot find anything local for less than $12/pound. At one place, they were offering $25 per bird.

I am blown away because when I go to the grocery store, even organic chicken is so cheap, comparatively speaking. The cost difference is staggering. And I have no idea why. The average consumer like me has no idea where and how the real costs of raising all these animals are being paid. There is no transparency in the grocery consumer chain, no real understanding of how animals are raised and what resources they require dependent on their raising, no ability to see how resources are being used. In the U.S., you have to fight to find out what's going on in your food supply chain and obscuring the truth is hurting the planet.
posted by sobell at 9:48 AM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


Or just give up land meat and eat sea greens, oysters, clams, and mussels. But maybe useful during a transition.

Fish, plankton, sea greens and protein from the sea!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 10:14 AM on July 23, 2019 [10 favorites]


sobell my husband & I do the cow thing too (from a farm in Sonoma!) and its great. we don't really eat a lot of beef anyway. but the chicken thing!! its so frustrating. we do eat more chicken and although we buy 'organic' chicken its still factory farmed, I'm sure. I'm not sure I could get my husband to go veg but we have talked about just eating meat less often (and paying for better sourcing if we can find it) and he's down with that. all this stuff was mapped out in Diet for a Small Planet decades ago.

but I'm here for pulverized nutria all day, for sure.
posted by supermedusa at 10:17 AM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


> Fish, plankton, sea greens and protein from the sea!
posted by delicious-luncheon at 10:14 AM on July 23 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


i am counting the fact that someone got to this joke before i could as yet another reason to love metafilter.

nonetheless it rankles that delicious-luncheon is getting favorites that i could have gotten if i had been a little faster.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:41 AM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is related to something I've wondered before but have never been able to find an answer to: How much of all this beef/pork/chicken being produced ends up as fast food? I'd love to know even a rough estimate.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:43 AM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Regarding fast food - i did some very quick research and it looks like, according to the USDA, the total food expenditures (including what they characterize as Food at Home and Food Away from Home) for 2017 as about $1.6T. Looks like Quick Serve Restaurant gross receipts in 2019 were around $250B so ignoring any variability in the composition of those cost pools, it looks like fast food is about 15% of all food costs by end dollars expended.

Food Away From Home was about 870B, so overall fast food makes up more than a third of that.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:59 AM on July 23, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is a challenging topic because there's a lot of incorrect information floating around that's taken as fact by virtue of its repetition. A good starting point on the topic is AdaptNation#88: Our Food Choices & Climate Change. The Science & Facts, which features Dr. Frank Mitloehner from UC Davis (@GHGGuru on Twitter). Agricultural production -- animal and plant -- is not the major driver of US greenhouse gas emissions (figures are similar for Canada). Per the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, total emissions from global livestock represent 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG emissions. They also note that food loss and food waste account for ~8% of global emissions. EPA's figures are a little older, but they show that agriculture in total -- crop and livestock and related sectors -- account for 24% of global emissions (report includes emissions from agriculture but not sequestration, so it's not a complete picture). The livestock sector can, and should do better.

There are some promising new progress on our understanding of the rumen microbiome and its drivers of CH4 production during enteric fermentation. More sophisticated manure management strategies also will help. In general, more intensive production reduces environmental impacts per kilogram of protein produced. Genetic improvement also helps by producing healthier, longer-lived, more fertile animals. These tools are needed because consumer demand for animal protein in their diets continues to grow. There is no way to meet that demand with pastured/free-range animals, regardless of the species.

I also think it's misguided to suggest that cutting back on beef (or pork or chicken) is going to solve our problems. Dramatic reductions in air travel would have far greater effects than reductions in dietary animal protein. Diet is only one of the changes we all need to make. There's no reason that we can't attack the problem from several directions at once, and we should, but beef isn't the principal driver of the problem and cannot be the only solution, either.
posted by wintermind at 11:14 AM on July 23, 2019 [14 favorites]


It's weird to me that there is so much beef being consumed when everyone I know has been eating progressively less and less beef (and meat in general in some cases) as the years go on. I can't even remember the last time I had lamb.

Who's hankerin for all that beef I guess is my question? follow up: is there like a beef subsidy or something involved that somehow makes this affordable for a large number of people? there must be right?



Also I'd like to mention I am liking this new trend of comment pre-snark we got going on in here and I hope it continues well into the future. I kind of like getting the snarky responses BEFORE the comments they are responding to. It's gonna disrupt the commenting industry!
posted by some loser at 11:16 AM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Fuck “But it tastes good”

It's part of the problem and it will have to be part of the solution, to get widespread adoption of alternatives by omnivores.

I can't get into the taste and texture of Beyond Burger, and associated products from the same company do not cook or taste well as meat replacements. Their stuff is also a huge coconut oil delivery device, which has its own issues.

But the Impossible Burger is surprisingly delicious — I wish I could buy it in the grocery stores, and I wish it weren't a $4 addition to the price of a $6 burger at a fast food joint. I could see it changing many minds, if more people could get access to it.

Looking forward to seeing lab-grown becoming available, too.

More palatable options mean reducing environmental impact faster, which should be the ultimate goal, here.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:30 AM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


It doesn't matter at all whether you choose to have a burger or not. Your individual actions have neither meaning nor value. They just serve as a way for you to pat yourself on the back and a cudgel to beat other people with. It's the liberal equivalent of conservatives addressing systemic poverty by decrying the individual purchasing choices of poor people.

This says more about you and how you view the world than it does the people making different lifestyle choices. Our individual impact has meaning - in what way and to whom/what may be debatable. They also certainly have value, though maybe not enough value to fix problems that are created by the systemic issues. Saying they're both worthless, full stop, just makes people want to collaborate elsewhere, and also exhibits a lack of self-awareness (e.g. your assertion reads as a way to pat yourself on the back and you've weaponized it to cudgel these foolish strawman lifestyle politicians!).

Some people decrease consumption or eat plant-based diets because those choices make them feel good, or they make them feel less bad. Not because they're "pats on the back and a cudgel to beat other people with" anymore than picking up litter on a hike feels good because it's an act of service or buying produce from a local farmer feels good because it's an act of community. That hiking trail will still have litter, and big agriculture will still dominate. Those things can still be true while individual choices continue having meaning and value.
posted by avalonian at 11:31 AM on July 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


If you look at food history, most cultures ate very little meat before industrialization. If you look at the great cuisines of the world, there are tons of great recipes with very little or no meat, but meat is about prestige and succes, so the thing is that when you get better off, you eat more meat. Just compare Italian-American food to real Italian food. Or Chinese-American food to real Chinese food.
I think it would be much easier to radically cut down meat than to eliminate it all together, and I think if you did that, even with 11 billion people in the world, we could reach sustainable levels of meat.
I'm so old that when I was a kid, industrial farming was not yet a big thing where I live. I remember our neighbor having an industrial hog farm and everyone else in the area finding it disgusting. He didn't have a happy life, either. We ate a lot of meat, relatively, but not nearly what is normal today. I'm old, but I'm not a thousand years old. Eating with much less meat is within living memory and can be re-constructed for new generations. The difficult part may be the big immigrant nations, like the US, many South American countries, Australia and New Zealand. In all of those countries, meat has been part of the dream and thus the identity of the nation. In those countries, you need a new narrative.
posted by mumimor at 12:02 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm down with eating radically less meat, but I wish I knew how to cover my protein input, as I like to do strength training. It's something like 1.5 g per lb body weight per day, as I recall. Like, is it as easy as switching to beans and eggs? I don't even eat that much meat right now but for people into sports and athletics meat is just so easy to eat and cook; I think nutritional and culinary knowhow would help people like me switch over.
posted by polymodus at 12:20 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


bugs, polymodus, bugs
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:43 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


Right now I'm reading an anthology of food essays, and one of the things that seem to repeat is to eat several courses. Obviously, you don't want to spend a lot of time cooking, so they recommend to have charcuterie, cheese and fruit as the first and last courses.
For a first course, have some slices of sausage, ham or eggs mayonnaise. Or a soup or broth. All of these can be fridge to table food.
For the main, have a slice of meat, accompanied by some delicious veg that are the real treat. Or something like a lentil or bean stew enhanced by a piece of bacon.
Then a light salad of greens.
Then cheese and fruits, no cooking.
If you want a custard or other milk/egg dessert. Again, just store-bought.
This is how most standard French meals looked a generation ago, Italian meals were similar, but since Italians were poorer, you'd have a pasta or rice dish between the first course and the meat course.
It was never spectacular, in today's perception it would look poor. But it was healthy and balanced.
posted by mumimor at 12:49 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


anymore than picking up litter on a hike feels good because it's an act of service or buying produce from a local farmer feels good because it's an act of community. That hiking trail will still have litter, and big agriculture will still dominate. Those things can still be true while individual choices continue having meaning and value.

This. I have been living in a poor neighborhood of south Philadelphia for awhile, and noticed the disparity in trash collection between my neighborhood and the residential ones closer to the center that are also far far more affluent. I assumed it was a government issue, ie: the city government was diverting more resources to keeping the streets of the rich neighborhoods clean whereas ours are brimming in trash. However, I have been catsitting in one of those nice neighborhoods in the center recently, and the rich house got a flier in the door for the local neighborhood association featuring, entirely, the goals and progress of the locals towards keeping the streets clean and trash free. It is an effort of the 3,000 households in this district and apparently a 30k dollar fundraising campaign run entirely by neighborhood volunteers. I was startled to learn that my cynicism about institutional class systems and the government were untrue, and that these streets are clean simply because a handful of really committed people have put in tons of elbow grease. So, yeah, pick up that piece of trash; decline to consume beef; bike to work instead of driving your Lexus. I wish I had a visual graph of all the meat my mother tried to force me to eat that I equally forcefully declined to. A mountain of uneaten hamburgers, kolbasa, ribs. The ocean absent that drop.
posted by erattacorrige at 12:53 PM on July 23, 2019 [9 favorites]


I avoid meat myself, but I'm also convinced that there is no way to build a sustainable food system without animals.

If you want to grow food crops, you need good soil with lots of nitrogen. Your options for getting that nitrogen are to use the Haber process and huge amounts of energy to pull it out of the air (right now and for the foreseeable future this means burning fossil fuels) or to get it from animal manure. Regenerative agriculture at massive scale is the only path forward that doesn't involve global famine. Done well, it has the potential to maintain a sustainable supply of animal protein that would allow people to keep eating meat as a once-in-while thing, which I think is the best we can hope for over the long term.
posted by contraption at 12:55 PM on July 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


I'm down with eating radically less meat, but I wish I knew how to cover my protein input, as I like to do strength training. It's something like 1.5 g per lb body weight per day, as I recall. Like, is it as easy as switching to beans and eggs? I don't even eat that much meat right now but for people into sports and athletics meat is just so easy to eat and cook; I think nutritional and culinary knowhow would help people like me switch over.

I've been eating a shit ton of homemade seitan recently: high protein, low calorie, and tasty if you spice it right. I tend to eat it as a breakfast meat.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:38 PM on July 23, 2019 [6 favorites]


If you want to grow food crops, you need good soil with lots of nitrogen. Your options for getting that nitrogen are to use the Haber process and huge amounts of energy to pull it out of the air (right now and for the foreseeable future this means burning fossil fuels) or to get it from animal manure.

All the nitrogen in animal manure came from plants where it came from either the Haber process or - in the case of all legumes, whether eaten by people or animals - from nitrogen fixation in the roots. It's equally energy intensive whether it's happening in the plant or industrially, though, but processing it through animals is inefficient, because no one recycles the nitrogen in urine, which is where the 90% of it that doesn't go into body mass goes to.

The most direct way to turn ammonia into human-usable protein is a Quorn bioreactor, of course, which uses a feedstock of ammonia and glucose syrup to make edible food.
posted by ambrosen at 2:45 PM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I noticed a vegetarian shop in our Chinatown the other day, and decided to shop. There was an impressive selection of meat simulacra, most tofu-based. The proprietress said that she had been in business for ten years, serving mainly the Taiwanese Buddhist community. I'm cooking up the golden duck tonight.
posted by No Robots at 3:12 PM on July 23, 2019 [2 favorites]




It doesn't matter at all whether you choose to have a burger or not. Your individual actions have neither meaning nor value. They just serve as a way for you to pat yourself on the back and a cudgel to beat other people with. It's the liberal equivalent of conservatives addressing systemic poverty by decrying the individual purchasing choices of poor people.


There are many ethical decisions I make in my life but it's only ever my choice not to consume animal products that people are super shitty about as they queue up to tell me how valueless my silly little life choice is. But please, tell me more about that cudgel.
posted by sarahw at 3:15 PM on July 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


It's equally energy intensive whether it's happening in the plant or industrially, though, but processing it through animals is inefficient, because no one recycles the nitrogen in urine, which is where the 90% of it that doesn't go into body mass goes to.

I'd like to be wrong, but show me the organic farm that doesn't rely heavily on manures. Composting and nitrogen-fixing cover crops are good for building soil over the long term, but I don't think you think you can produce food at commercial scale without the faster cycling provided by animals, either through trucked-in manure or through integrated farming practices that directly bring the critters themselves in to do their eating and excreting (yes, including urination) directly on the cropland.
posted by contraption at 3:30 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


So I went looking and found this Guardian article suggesting that there have been some recent positive developments in "vegan" fertilizers. It does still seem likely to me that the use of animals in regenerative farming to mimic natural ecologies (since they can not only help along the nitrogen cycle but also provide pest control and take the place of some forms of mechanization) is a net good, but there may be other ways.
posted by contraption at 3:41 PM on July 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad to see a lot of plant-based meat analogues appearing in Australian supermarkets, and I'm also glad to see that they are stocked directly alongside the actual meat. We buy them quite a lot and they have all been pretty good, and they are priced quite competitively. And when we're not buying them, we're buying proper free-range stuff from proper butchers.

On the subject of trash, I spent two hours last Saturday at Oxley Commons here in Brisbane, picking up trash. And by trash I mean, cigarette butts. Holy fuck there were so many cigarette butts, just in one tiny area, probably something like 500 in total. Cigarette butts and plastic bread bag fastener things. There were like six bins nearby.

Anyway, I felt good about it, and will be doing it again this weekend, and then enjoying some fake meat spaghetti for dinner, and if that's virtue signalling then so be it. Get involved. Pick up some shit. Eat some fake meat. Just fucking...do something.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:51 PM on July 23, 2019 [7 favorites]


It's not so much what we consume, but how much we consume. All require production, packaging, transportation, disposal. Until recently, all driven by stored energies.

Ripping-up and spending have fed our desires and resulted in the creation of what Bucky Fuller called energy slaves (great comic).

Monkeys with paws in cocoanuts. The question is whether we can let go. Learn to ask less from the physical planet and inhabit more creative spheres. We must, and whether or not we do it consciously, we shall.
posted by Twang at 5:05 PM on July 23, 2019 [4 favorites]




Per capita beef consumption in the EU has fallen 19% since 1990 (with chicken rising substantially)
There's a graph further down in the thread comparing US and EU meat consumption, which is rather stunning.
posted by mumimor at 1:18 PM on July 24, 2019


Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months (Matt McGrath, BBC Environment correspondent, 24 July 2019)
The first major hurdle will be the special climate summit called by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which will be held in New York on 23 September.

Mr Guterres has been clear that he only wants countries to come to the UN if they can make significant offers to improve their national carbon cutting plans.

This will be followed by COP25 in Santiago, Chile, where the most important achievement will likely be keeping the process moving forward.

But the really big moment will most likely be in the UK at COP26, which takes place at the end of 2020.

The UK government believes it can use the opportunity of COP26, in a post-Brexit world, to show that Britain can build the political will for progress, in the same way the French used their diplomatic muscle to make the Paris deal happen.

"If we succeed in our bid (to host COP26) then we will ensure we build on the Paris agreement and reflect the scientific evidence accumulating now that we need to go further and faster," said Environment Secretary Michael Gove, in what may have been his last major speech in the job.

"And we need at COP26 to ensure other countries are serious about their obligations and that means leading by example. Together we must take all the steps necessary to restrict global warming to at least 1.5C."
McGrath lists reasons to be hopeful, including the evidence of heatwaves, the influence of Swedish school striker Greta Thunberg, the rise of Extinction Rebellion, and ideas like the green new deal in the US, which might have seemed unfeasible or "lefty fringe" a few years ago, are now gaining real traction and serious discussion. And some countries, like the UK (BBC), have gone even further and legislated for net zero emissions by 2050, the long-term goal that will keep temperatures down.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:09 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


turbid dahlia: I'm really glad to see a lot of plant-based meat analogues appearing in Australian supermarkets, and I'm also glad to see that they are stocked directly alongside the actual meat.

Selling 'veggie burgers' in Mississippi can land you in prison. Company sues state over law (Giacomo Bologna, Mississippi Clarion Ledger, July 2, 2019)
You can't shout "fire" in a crowded theater, but can you shout "meatless hot dogs" in the frozen food aisle of a Mississippi grocery store?

That is what a vegan food company wants a federal court to decide — kind of.

Upton's Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association is suing top Mississippi officials over a 2019 law that prohibits companies from using meat terminology when selling vegetarian and vegan products.

The law took effect Monday, and violators could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

"Thankfully Mississippi has not started to enforce that ban yet," attorney Justin Pearson said at a press conference Tuesday. "But we have filed that lawsuit to hopefully prevent that from ever happening."
That's right, Mississippi passed a law to fine and potentially imprison people who sell meatless "hot dogs" and "burgers" that are labeled as such (Vox), because that might confuse people who really want slaughtered animals in their hot dogs and burgers.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:17 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


^France did the same thing.

(Btw, the tofu golden duck was pretty good. It definitely had the barbecue duck seasoning down pat.)
posted by No Robots at 6:44 AM on July 25, 2019


The Trump administration is getting ready to put the final touches on a rule that would mostly roll back the Obama-era restrictions on vehicle fuel efficiency through 2026, so it gives me great pleasure to see the rug pulled out from under them by California and a big chunk of the automobile industry: Major automakers strike climate deal with California, rebuffing Trump on proposed mileage freeze

Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America have been secretly negotiating with California on a fuel-efficiency deal to mostly follow the Obama-era rules regardless of whether they're still formally in place, and announced it this morning.
Under the new accord the four companies, which represent roughly 30 percent of the U.S. auto market, have agreed to produce fleets averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026. That’s just one year later than the target set under the Obama administration, which argued that requiring more-fuel-efficient vehicles would improve public health, combat climate change and save consumers money at the gas pump without compromising safety.
The next step is going to be pressuring the remaining 70% of the market to get on board.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:07 AM on July 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


What a lot of people who are not vegan/not eating plantbased don't see is that once you stop eating meat and dairy, your microbiome changes, your taste buds change, the neurotransmitters in your brain stop telling you you're craving it, and you lose interest in eating it. Ask any vegan. It's just a matter of changing habits (and changing culture.)

It's not an easy transition for many - I get it. I was a vegetarian for over 30 years before becoming vegan, and now that I'm vegan, my digestion has never been better. I feel better in so many ways. Eating a plantbased diet is a triple win - for your health, the health of the planet, and for animals. Here are some really compelling stats on why we should all be eating a plantbased diet.
posted by kmstanton at 5:23 AM on July 26, 2019 [2 favorites]


I thought of this thread today, when I read an article about a hospital kitchen that has gone all organic and mainly locavore, within the same economy as before. One of the things they do is use only 6 kilos of meat to feed 350 staff. Patients get to eat what they want, though the kitchen makes an effort to make the vegetarian options look and taste delicious. The head of the kitchen said that this was good in many ways, but mainly it wouldn't have been possible to shift to all-organic while using the same amount of meat and fish. So basically they are returning to a pre-industrial diet, but with all the knowledge and refinement of modern cuisine.
I'm guessing this is an example that will be followed very soon across the country.

The article, in Danish, is behind a paywall, so I haven't linked it. If someone is very interested, I'm allowed to mail it to a friend.
posted by mumimor at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


This Is the Beginning of the End of the Beef Industry -- Alt meat isn't going to stay alt for long, and cattle are looking more and more like stranded assets (Rowan Jacobsen for Outside Online, July 31, 2019)
Part of the appeal of the new burgers is their smaller environmental footprint. Beef is the most wasteful food on the planet. Cows are not optimized to make meat; they’re optimized to be cows. It takes 36,000 calories of feed to produce 1,000 calories of beef. In the process, it uses more than 430 gallons of water and 1,500 square feet of land, and it generates nearly ten kilograms of greenhouse-gas emissions. In comparison, an Impossible Burger uses 87 percent less water, 96 percent less land, and produces 89 percent fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. Beyond Meat’s footprint is similarly svelte.

Yes, a good argument can be made that small-farm, grass-fed beef production (in places that can grow abundant grass) has a very different ethical and environmental landscape, but unfortunately, that’s just not a significant factor. America gets 97 percent of its beef from feedlots. And feedlots are irredeemable.
It's an optimistic take on the future of beef, but nice to hear a positive view on fake meats (plus good to note that "but what about grass-fed beef?" gets a quick take-down as not the representative reality of U.S. cattle).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:14 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change | Allan Savory
A TED talk that resonates with my experience. I think we all have the problem that agriculture is something happening somewhere else from where we are. We lack the knowledge needed to discern between necessary herding and obnoxious feed lots and everything in between. Specially because some traditional farming really is damaging, and some industrial farming is fine. If anyone needs a simple formula, a good idea would be to price food according to its environmental impact. Industrial meat is cheap because the farmers and butchers don't have to pay for the damage they do to our land and our people. If they did, most people would revert to the balance of meat to vegs I mentioned above - 6 kgs of meat to 350 people. (It's almost biblical, isn't it? But this is how humans have lived for thousands and thousand of years). On the other hand, well-managed vegetable gardening, even at a large scale, with a bare minimum of artificial fertilizer and pesticides, can feed many people better than a "pure" organic farm. I personally buy organic because there is no system that can help me sort between the well-managed "conventional" farm and the exploitative factory farm. But states and nations could do a lot to help, and again, high prices on unwanted chemicals would help farmers prioritize.
posted by mumimor at 12:39 PM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


gwint: Like, who would have imagined Burger King rolling out a meatless Whopper nationally just a few years ago?

And it's here, the Impossible Whopper (BK.com). "100% WHOPPER®, 0% Beef." In coordination with Impossible Foods.

It was rolled out in St. Louis, Missouri, back in April, where Tim Carman reported for the Washington Post that Burger King’s Impossible Whopper tastes even better than the real thing:
At a Burger King in the Academy neighborhood, the store has already sold out of its supply, twice, in the week or so since the Impossible Whopper was introduced, said assistant manager Nikiesha Harvey. People have been calling and coming in from all parts of the country to order one, or a dozen, some as far away as California and Florida, she said.

“I couldn’t tell the difference, and I was shocked myself,” Harvey said about the Impossible Whopper (which runs $5.59 in the St. Louis market, a full dollar more than the standard Whopper). She even served one to her husband and son, who couldn’t taste the difference, either.

Part of this trickeration can be attributed to Impossible Foods, the San Francisco Bay-area start-up that this year rolled out a new formula for its plant-based patties. The company has substituted soy protein for wheat protein to give the patty a more beeflike texture. It has also added methyl cellulose, a plant-based binder, to make the burger juicier. And this is in addition to the not-so-secret ingredient, heme, which Impossible Foods produces by injecting the DNA of a soy plant into genetically engineered yeast, which is then fermented.

All this science is concealed in a patty that doesn’t look too far removed from the ground-beef version, especially after both are run under Burger King’s signature charbroiler. Both beef and plant-based patties are branded with black parallel stripes, the grill marks that are as much a part of Burger King’s identity as that royal mascot with the perpetually creepy smile. I should note the chain also offers a vegan, mayo-less Impossible Whopper, whose patty is cooked in a microwave to ensure no meat particles from the charbroiler contaminate it. It’s an ashen-looking patty, unappetizing on its face, though tasty enough within its Whopper confines.
So if you're craving a beef-like patty, it sounds like they're widely available in the U.S., but for a bit more than the (impossibly) low price for beef patties.

I wonder how this is playing in Mississippi (link to prior comment).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:55 PM on August 10, 2019


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