Cruising Reddit earlier today I saw a headline that read, “A single cow, steer, or bull produces more CO2 per year than a Ferrari.” The headline linked to the results page of the Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model, which is put out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Yeah, it’s a bummer. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but it just serves as another reminder that as a lover of all things beef, and a lover of the idea of living more sustainably and leaving the planet in better shape than I found it for future generations to enjoy, it’s more and more difficult to justify a juicy, delicious burger. Of course, if the beef is comes from a small, non-factory farm, then you may have an opening there.
VICE did a piece earlier this year on HBO called “Meathooked” that looked at the true cost of cheap beef and it was jaw-dropping (you can see the correspondent’s final thoughts on the piece above). Beef for $1.99 a pound at a chain grocery store sounds great, but when you consider all of the factors that go into cranking out this specific type of food at a ridiculously low price (massive amounts of water consumed, deforestation, methane production, the crappy conditions that the animals are kept in, to name a few), you might begin to second guess some of your menu choices next time you go out. Again, I LOVE eating beef, but when you pull back the curtain a bit, it can be pretty alarming.
As I understand it, if you want to eat meat and do it in a socially-responsible way, you have a couple of options. Support smaller farms that emphasize sustainable farming methods, and/or stock up on the camo gear and go out and get some meat for yourself. I don’t do either nearly enough, but the more I read pieces like the ones above, it reminds me that I really should be hitting the farmers markets and going on hunting trips more often.