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Meatless Monday Can’t Change The World

Thought about sticking to Meatless Monday to reduce your carbon foot print?

Let’s discuss why there are better options for you to reduce your impact on climate change!

Cattle standing in line

How much meat are we eating?

According to USDA Supply & Disappearance Data the average American ate only 54.7 lb of beef in 2018. Since each carcass creates about 500 lbs in retail meat, that means we can feed roughly 10 Americans for a year with just 1 cow!

Like all things in our world, the production of cattle does cause a release of green house gases into the environment. According to the University of Michigan, a 4 oz serving of beef creates 6.61 lbs of CO2. At first, that seems like a lot, especially if you look at it on an annual basis. 54.7 lb/per person/year * 6.61 lbs CO2/4oz beef = 723 lbs of CO2 equivalent per year due to beef consumption. 

But let’s compare that to the average Americans lbs of CO2 per year.

The average American lifestyle produces 44,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent every year! Only 723 lbs, or 1.64%, can be attributed to beef consumption.

The EPA states that for every 1 gallon of gasoline used, 20 lbs of C02 equivalent are produced. Therefore, a years worth of beef consumption is only equivalent to 36.15 gallons of gas! (723 lb CO2 from beef / 20 lb CO2 from gas = 36.15 gallons of gas) If the average vehicles get 20 miles per gallon, you only have to drive 723 miles to produce the same amount of CO2 as a years worth of eating beef! If you had a 15 mile commute each way, you’d produce the same amount of CO2 in 24 days of going to work.

Would eliminating meat make a difference?

Again referencing the USDA Supply & Disappearance data, we can determine that with a 4 oz serving Americans eat…

Only 336 meals a year with meat! If the average person eats twice a day, that means 54% of American meals are meatless!

So why can’t we just make meals 100% meatless? Because it could have drastic effects!

Already, 20% of edible beef sold in the US is wasted every year, if consumers begin to purchase less beef now, that meat will simply be wasted and head to the landfill. Since cattle are 12-15 months of age before they reach market weights, and a cows gestation period is 9 months long, trends in the beef industry from consumer to producer take almost 2 years to be actualized!

Plus, beef is one of the leading sources of 10 nutrients! Reducing meat in the diet could affect nutrition on a global scale. Food access is difficult to accommodate to different lifestyles, while providing the variety consumers want, and the convenience to fit into their life. A shift away from meat could lead to more processed foods, more sugars, and more health problems in America.

Have Your Steak, and Eat It Too!

Not eating meat isn’t going to reduce your impact on the environment, since it already plays such a small role in your carbon foot print, but a huge role in your diet! In fact, even going meatless on Monday’s won’t change a thing since there are only 52 Mondays in a year (104 meals) and Americans already are going meatless for 394 meals a year!

If we cut beef consumption worldwide by 50% we could decrease the cattle herd by 50% but… we could decrease the cattle herd by even more (62%) by making the rest of the world as efficient in beef production as the US is!

It’s important to find other avenues to reduce our CO2 equivalent, ones that are more effective and don’t jeopardize our health.

Meat on Cutting Board

Don’t Call Me, I’m Eating Beef!

Did you know the production of 1 iPhone 11 produces 158.4 lbs of CO2 equivalent? But the production of smart phones is minimal compared to our use of them!

1 MB of data transmission produces 34 grams of CO2. The average smartphone user is using 31.4 gigabytes of data a month.

That means that every month, just from using your cell phone, you are producing 2,348.72 lbs of CO2! That is equal to eating beef for over 3 years!


31.4 GB x 1000 MB/GB = 31,400 MB Data use/month

34 g CO2/MB x 31,400 MB/month= 1,067,600 g CO2/month

1,067,600 g CO2/month x .0022 g/lb = 2348.72 lbs/month!

Input your regular data use into the equation above and see how much CO2 you produce every month from using your smartphone!

If you produce 2349 lbs of CO2 every month with your phone, that is over 28,188 lbs of CO2 per year! Using your phone for a year produces 38 times more CO2 than eating beef for a year. 

Every Day Life.. It’s Full of CO2!

Did you know for the average household (2.6 people) the home accounts for 27% of an Americans annual CO2 production?!

Running a plasma TV for 6 hours a day (Hello, Netflix Binge!) produces 788.40 lbs of CO2! That’s more than an entire year of eating beef..woah! Opt for an HDTV or LCD to cut your emissions in half! Better yet.. get outside and turn the TV off all together! Eliminating TV’s altogether can save .90% of your annual CO2 emissions!

Do you have ceiling fans in your home? If you’re like me, they are always on (’cause Florida is HOT). Just one ceiling fan, running non-stop for a year accounts for .82% of an annual CO2 equivalent! Have multiple fans going? Just multiply that number! Keep your fans turned off when you’re not home and reduce that number by 50%!

Did you know the average American produces enough trash to account for 7.58% of the CO2 equivalent they produce in a year? Making a point to reduce trash and recycle/reuse items correctly could make a big impact in your carbon footprint!

Easy Changes to Go Green Today!
  • Observe posted speed limits!

Going the speed limit increases fuel efficiency which reduces vehicle emissions and saves on fuel use. Observing the speed limit could reduce your carbon foot print by 721.56 lbs per year, that’s 1.64% of your annual CO2 equivalent!

  • Setting a thermostat 2 degrees warmer in the summer and 2 degrees cooler in the winter.

This small change can save on energy production which would save you 769.23 lbs of CO2! That’s 1.75% less CO2 you’re contributing to the atmosphere! Those two degrees make all the difference. 

  • Properly insulating your water heater & reducing the max temperature to less than 120 degrees.

Reducing the energy consumption of your water heater can shave off 1.62% of the CO2 equivalent you produce each year! That’s 711.54 lbs of CO2 just by adjusting the water heater!

Making these simple changes could reduce your carbon footprint by 5.01% (2202.23 lbs of CO2!) and does not sacrifice nutrition or taste!

Check out more ways to reduce your carbon equivalent with this table.

Learn more about how Cattle DO Cause Climate Change here!

One Comment on “Meatless Monday Can’t Change The World

  1. Thank you for providing the whole picture on our carbon footprint and climate change per the cattle industry. More folks need to read your report, especially those who rant about the cattle. I will be sure to reference your article with the next uninformed person.

    Your list of better ways to reduce our footprint was enlightening. I am guilty of a few and will make changes. 🙂

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