Nonfiction in response to Climate Action
January 2019

The Price of Beef

By Karen Wu

How do we stop global warming? Some places have instituted the carbon price, but placing a higher price on beef will help too.

Making space to raise cattle causes deforestation. The factories that they are processed in emit greenhouse gasses. According to a 2006 report by the the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the greenhouse gas emitted when producing the annual beef diet of the average American is equal to driving a car over 1,800 miles. They are also inefficient. According to a study from the World Resources Institute says that, “beef uses more land and freshwater and generates more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein than any other commonly consumed food.”

A study published in Nature Communications found that, “a vegan or vegetarian diet is associated with only half the cropland demand, grazing intensity and overall biomass harvest of comparable meat-based human diets.” However, just limiting beef consumption will go a long way. According to the United Nations report, chicken production contributes far less to global warming than beef production. It is also more efficient. Chickens convert 11% of their feed to calories humans consume while beef only converts 1% of their feed.

Global warming is damaging our planet and it is getting worse. Since 1990, the global emission of carbon dioxide has increased by almost 50%. We need to look at more ways to stop this- not just at fuel sources, but at what goes on our dinner plates.