Gradual Shift Away From Beef In US Diets

By Anthony K

When we talk about reducing our carbon footprint, people usually think of cutting down on air travel or carpooling to work. Or, maybe you look for sustainable shops. However, your diet plays a role in your carbon footprint, too.

Animal-based products actually increase your carbon footprint! Even cruelty-free animal products have an impact. Between feeding, rearing, processing, and shipping, it all adds up. Switching to a plant-based diet cuts out the “middle man,” as it were. For example, rather than the grains being fed to animals, which are in turn fed to humans, we eat the grains directly.

And the proof is in the numbers. Over the last two decades, reduced consumption of animal-based products cut down dietary carbon emissions for the entirety of the US by 35%! Data from the national dietary survey between 2003 and 2018 and life cycle analysis on reported foods showed that US diet-related greenhouse gas emissions reduced by almost half over 15 years. The diet-related emissions dropped following the gradual reduction of animal-based foods like chicken, eggs, dairy, pork, and beef, accounting for food-related carbon footprints.

US citizens reduced their animal carbon footprints but maintained their calorie and nutritional intakes. Replacing animal proteins with plant-based proteins like corn and legumes exposes folks to healthier food options while promoting carbon sequestration.

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Declining diet-related emissions shows an improvement, but the US has more to do to meet set climate targets. Further data analysis shows that emissions of the average US diet exceed the limits imposed by the EAT-Lancer Planetary Diet to achieve a sustainable food system. Fortunately, the US has a long-term plan for more diet-related changes.

Cutting beef consumption and raising appetite for plant-based foods may help the US secure a slot among leading environmentally friendly environments. The nation may supplement dietary changes with relevant efforts to further reduce the global carbon footprint.