Beef is the worst meat to eat when it comes to its environmental impact. 27% of the earth's habitable land is used to raise livestock – including the crops we grow to feed our animals.
Most cows are being fed on soy or maize and 75% of their total production is used to feed livestock. This means that an average European citizen indirectly consumes 61 kilos of soy per year. Choosing not to eat that meaty hamburger doesn’t make that much of a difference though – it's really the steaks that have the biggest impact. The cows are really being slaughtered for their expensive cuts - mince is really just the ‘leftovers'.
Now that we’ve covered landmass, feed and consumption, let’s talk about poop. And burps. And farts. A grown cow can drop about 45kgs worth per day. Each time releasing air-polluting methane, ammonia and nitrous oxide. Together with their burps and farts, our cows are responsible for 10% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (anthropogenic means due to human activity).
We’ve all heard of meat substitutes such as the Impossible Burger or the Beyond Meat products. In my opinion these are fantastic alternatives to mince, but we have even better things to look forward to. Scientists are working on creating steaks (and other ‘exotic’ meats, like kangaroo) that are grown in a lab using stem cells. Not only would we not need to kill animals to enjoy a juicy steak, greenhouse gas emissions would drastically reduce and every single piece of meat would be a perfect cut. Who doesn’t want a steak with the perfect marbling, perfect size and perfect flavor? Until then, if you don’t want to stop eating meat, perhaps it is time to stop eating beef – steaks in particular. Replace a couple of your dinners with soy-based products, your breakfast with (dairy-free) yoghurt and fruits and choose for chicken instead of steak. I haven't had a meaty breakfast in over two years and I don't miss it at all!