The Animal Agriculture Alliance met recently with an agenda that included issues ranging from drugs in meat to consumer perception. This gathering is timely, as the meat industry faces an onslaught of criticisms regarding animal welfare, antibiotic resistance, human health and adverse environmental impacts.
Meanwhile, a new study presented at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting last month finds that plant-based meat alternatives have far less environmental impacts than their animal counterparts. The study analyzed production emissions of 39 meat substitutes, finding they produce 10 times fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similarly produced processed beef.
While many existing studies illustrate the detrimental environmental impacts of meat production, this report is one of the first to analyze and compare the environmental impacts of the production of meat substitutes. Researchers examined pesticides, fertilizer and energy used for production, as well as metrics from factory production. Although some meat substitutes can be processed, the emissions are still far smaller than meat production and processing.
The study also compared each to driving a car. While eating an 8-ounce steak emits comparable emissions to driving a car 29 miles, consuming a similar meat substitute is comparable to driving just 3 miles. These findings point toward yet another strong argument for consumers to shift away from eating destructive meat products to eco-friendlier products, including meat substitutes.
The potential impact of these findings is immense, considering the sheer size of the U.S. meat industry: Beef alone is a $95 billion-a-year business, according to the federal government. That size translates into huge lobbing power, allowing the beef lobby is to flex its political muscle in various ways in Washington and state capitals around the nation…
The good news is that, despite Big Beef’s best efforts, consumers are already shifting their diets away from animal products toward healthier plant-based foods. Meat substitutes are rapidly growing, projected to reach $5 billion in sales by 2020. As the population becomes more informed (and as millennials become more influential), the demand for plant-based foods is increasing…
Finish reading: Government policies support environmentally harmful meat production | TheHill