“Have a grass-fed burger—and feel good about it.”Environmentalists, especially of the veggie persuasion, are quick to point out that meat accounts for nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing consumption, giving meat up even one day a week, is the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.’s panel on climate change, said last fall.

But not all meat is created equal, Lisa Hamilton writes for Audubon. Some methane production is unavoidable (file this fact under “cow burps”), but “animals reared on organic pasture have a different climate equation from those raised in confinement on imported feed,” asserts Hamilton, author of Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness.

In large-scale farming confinement systems, manure flows into (disgusting) lagoons, where its decomposition releases millions of tons of methane and nitrous oxide into the air every year. “On pasture, that same manure is simply assimilated back into the soil with a carbon cost close to zero,” Hamilton writes.

What’s more, grass-fed livestock can be an essential player in a sustainable set-up. Manure revitalizes soil (in lieu of chemical fertilizers or shipped-in compost), and grazing encourages plant growth. Hamilton also points to Holistic Management International, an organization that proposes managed, intensive grazing as part of a climate change solution.

“In order for pasture-based livestock to become a significant part of the meat industry, we need to eat more of its meat, not less,” Hamilton writes. “So if you want to use your food choices to impact climate change, by all means follow Dr. Pachauri’s suggestion for a meatless Monday. But on Tuesday, have a grass-fed burger—and feel good about it.”

Sources: Audubon, Holistic Management International

9/20/2011 2:50:38 PM

Well being and health living writer.

Kevin Watkins
9/23/2009 5:15:57 PM

Although I appreciate everyone's comments and all the effort people are expending to reduce greenhouse gasses and carbon footprints, I think the easiest and most effective way to resolve this issue is to simply stop making babies!! The key to sustainablility is to have a national/global population that the earth can support, ideally with simple, local agricultural practices. I submit that if we do not achieve that goal in the near future ( zero population growth) then all of our valiant efforts to reduce our environmetal impact will be for naught. Ironic, isn't it , that having children to provide us with a legacy, will eventually result in the demise of our species and possibly our planet? Food for thought, possibly the healthiest food you can consume. Cheers.

9/16/2009 1:31:48 PM

"There is a cure for Diabetes" by Dr. Gabriel Cousens is full of facts with references that prove that this has been known for decades. Follow the money. You can ignore someone stating figures, whether real or not. I give you true testimony first hand that a human body is better off without meat or dairy. Every back yard or porch could grow at least part of what our bodies need for fuel. REAL FOOD that actually helps not harm our bodies! What we would do with the bovine mess we have created is another issue. There are a lot of carnivores in homes all across this nation. They are usually rather small and furry with CANINE teeth and claws. The meat could still be used in smaller proportions. Less breeding and limited use would not create the disaster some predict. And for the people that are scared to be in a business that is no longer needed, ask those who used to manufacture textiles in this country. They are finding things to do. We ship WAY TOO MUCH junk from place to place and back again. I spoke to a driver that took oranges to Chicago and brought back orange juice to Georgia. I once picked up a load of dehydrated potatoes in Wisconsin, dropped them in Idaho, picked up the EXACT load down to the pound, and delivered it to Houston, TX! I have driven a tractor-trailer for 27 years all across this country. I asked a driver that picks up used grease at all those restaurants and grocery stores where it goes.I can't believe we still use so much petroleum and ship all that FF grease to China! THAT could be fueling a LOT of trucks, we should all be using HHO (Hydrogen kits) in our vehicles, and not buying all the gas guzzlers without them getting at least 35-40 mpg - PERIOD! That is just wasting our own resources, polluting our own backyard, and tossing cash down the toilet! My VW with a HHO system runs like a race car and gets 70 mpg on used FF grease. On top of all that it doesn't pollute! Take that, oil execs and terrorist supporting countrie

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