Got Beef? Just kidding…

Posted on 09 June 2009

While working for an environmental NGO a few years ago, I came across some interesting fun facts about America’s favorite meat.  Add this to your next burger, along with the relish and ketchup:

–Producing 1kg of beef results in more CO2 emissions than going for a three-hour drive while leaving all the lights on at home.

–The average American eats three burgers per week, or about 150 burgers per year.  That’s a lot of beef; not to mention cheese, shipping and grilling. More specifically, America’s love of burgers contributes approximately 941 to 1023 pounds (or 428-465 kg) of greenhouse gas per person, per year — the rough equivalent of the annual carbon output from 7,500-15,000 SUVs if the 300 million US citizens hit the 3 burgers/week average.

–For the amount of energy you get out of a given bunch of plant material, eaten directly, it takes ten times that much plant material to feed an herbivore to provide the meat equivalent (in terms of energy). That means ten times more land used, ten times more water and fertilizers to grow the plants, and ten times more fuel for transport.

–Producing meat requires between 25 and 250 times as much water as producing an equivalent amount of grain (estimates vary by study, but the ratio is probably closer to the higher end).

More than a little mind-boggling…and fairly depressing that America’s favorite meat, much like America’s favorite car(s), is turning out to be one of the more demanding, energy-consuming and unsustainable diet options out there.  Veggie burger, anyone?

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