While methane’s lifespan (12 years) is shorter than that of carbon dioxide, once released into the atmosphere it is 86 times more powerful at warming the climate. With an estimated 13.4 million beef cows and heifers in Australia alone, those are a lot of farts and burps affecting our environment.
Why are other environmental organisations not looking at this issue? To date, there has been little to no consideration of the impacts our diets have on the climate. Not in government policy nor worldwide environmental campaigns. There are several reasons why this issue is ignored.
At Less Meat Less Heat we feel that for what is at stake it is worth tackling these challenges to build a more sustainable future.
There are several excellent organisations that advocate for animal rights. We encourage you to understand the footprint of your food and engage with these organisations to learn more. Together we can work towards a better planet from both a climate and animal rights perspective.
Beef and lamb have the biggest carbon footprint, and a Climatarian diet emphasises the considered and more restricted consumption of these two meat-types.
Visit our Climatarian page to better understand the carbon footprint.
To start, we recommend adding more plant-based options in place of beef and lamb and switching to healthier, low-carbon footprint options such as pork or chicken. Once you are comfortable with this arrangement, consider cutting beef and lamb out of your diet altogether and only indulging on truly special occasions, such as a Christmas roast. You might also try limiting the amount of cheese you eat, as this has the biggest carbon footprint of all dairy products.
It is recommended that 15 to 25 percent of total daily energy intake is from protein sources. Red meat is certainly not the only source of protein and can have a high saturated fat content. Other animal products that have lower carbon footprints and are also high in protein are chicken, pork, fish, egg and dairy.
Plant-based protein sources are abundant and even better for the environment as they require less energy to produce. Nuts and seeds can easily be added to breakfast cereal, salads, or stir-fry, and are a great snack. Beans and legumes like soy, lentils and chickpeas are extremely versatile and can be incorporated into most meals. Grains such as oats, brown rice, wholegrain pasta and bread all have protein in them too.
The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids that it contains. Soy and quinoa are the only plant proteins that contain all essential amino acids. So it is best to pair two different plant protein sources when eating a plant-based meal. For example a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on wholegrain toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.
Iron is used to transport oxygen in the blood. There are two types of iron: haem iron and non-haem iron, with the latter being found in plant-based foods such as dried beans, lentils, fortified cereals and grains. A healthy body absorbs 10 percent of iron consumed from a vegetarian diet. The recommended overall intake of iron for the average male is 8mg and 18mg for the average female to stay healthy. The most significant influence on iron absorption is actually how much you already have stored in your body.
Certain foods like the vitamin C in oranges, lemons and citrus fruit do help with iron absorption. Cooking foods like tomatoes and broccoli also makes it easier for the body to absorb the iron in them.
Some foods can decrease your chances of absorbing iron efficiently. For example, the tannins in tea, coffee and wine reduce iron absorption.
If you are worried about your iron, consult your doctor and take a supplement as an easy and effective way to ensure you are receiving enough iron. Some easy tips to adopt can be drinking hot water and lemon after dinner instead of tea. Treat yourself to a delicious juice or smoothie, and sneak some kale and orange juice in there. Cook tomatoes in the pan for a fresh pasta sauce. Here’s a great article from our friends at Health Ambition with some further tips and advice to help you maintain healthy iron levels. Best of all, dark chocolate has iron in it. Yay!
Holistic Management: Misinformation on the Science of Grazed Ecosystems is a report into the efficacy of these HM principles. It finds that Allen Savory’s HM principles of intensive grazing and trampling are in the end detrimental to plants and their productivity, as well as soils, water storage, while still contributing to greenhouse gas emissions (given off by concentrated herds of cattle and sheep). These stresses far outweigh the capacity of grasslands to store the carbon emitted each year. This has been further confirmed by a more recent review of the published literature by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, titled ‘Holistic management – a critical review of Allan Savory’s grazing method‘.
One would believe GHG emissions from transporting the meat would be considerably high, right? But a staggering 90.3% of GHG emissions happen on the farm here at home, due to natural processes associated with cattle consuming postures.
Consequently, Less Meat Less Heat believes that the beef export issue is not within the scope of Less Meat Less Heat Australia. It will be in the scope of a global expansion of the Less Meat Less Heat campaign. We believe that to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from livestock we need to start confronting the challenges and social behaviour on our home turf first.
If your question was not answered here please peruse the FAQ page for The Climatarian Challenge.