Is beef the new coal?

Climate-friendly eating is on the rise.
Image: Bloomberg

Eleven Madison Park, a top Manhattan restaurant, is going meatless. The Epicurious cooking site stopped posting new beef recipes. The Culinary Institute of America is promoting “plant-forward” menus. Dozens of colleges, including Harvard and Stanford, are shifting toward “climate-friendly” meals.

If this continues — and the Boston Consulting Group and Kearney believe the trend is global and growing — beef could be the new coal, shunned by elite tastemakers over rising temperatures and squeezed by increasingly cheap alternatives.

“Beef is under a whole lot of pressure,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communications. “It was the shift in market forces that was the death knell for coal. And it’s the same thing here. It’s going to be the shift in consumer tastes and preferences, not some regulation.”

Americans do claim to want a shift. Seventy percent say it would be healthier if the country ate less meat and 58% would like to eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, according to a 2020 survey by the food market research firm Datassential. Worries about climate pile on top of long-standing health concerns about red meat.

Yet, while long-term trends back the change, U.S. consumption of beef actually ticked up slightly during the 2020 pandemic, to 55.8 pounds per person. It has been slowly rising since 2015 after plunging during the 2007-2009 Great Recession. Consumption last year remained 11.4% below 2006 and nearly 40% below peak 1970s levels, according to the US Agriculture Department.

Tastemakers are pushing. Popular culinary personalities including chef Jamie Oliver are promoting plant-centric meals. Bill Gates is urging developed nations to completely give up conventional beef. Many school and corporate cafeterias have dropped all-beef patties for “blended burgers” made of one-third mushrooms.

Meanwhile, a backlash is stirring among rural Republican politicians who scent a new battleground in the partisan culture wars. In broad swaths of the Heartland, cattle and the rows of corn grown for animal feed are central to livelihood and identity. More than a third of U.S. farms and ranches are beef cattle operations, making it the single largest segment of U.S. agriculture. Burgers sizzle from countless backyard barbecues.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts seized on a suggestion by his Democratic counterpart in neighboring Colorado that the state’s residents cut red meat for one day to counter with a “Meat on the Menu” Day. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds outdid him, declaring all of April “Meat on the Menu Month.” Fox News later spent days promoting phony accusations the Biden administration had launched a “War on Beef.”

It hasn’t, but there is no escaping the fact that beef is a climate villain. Cows’ ruminant digestive system ferments grass and other feed in multiple stomach compartments, burping methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Cattle’s relatively long lifespan compared to other meat sources adds to their climate impact.

Globally, 14.5% of human-driven greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock production, with cattle responsible for two-thirds, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Per gram of protein, beef production has more than 6 times the climate impact of pork, more than 8 times that of poultry and 113 times that of peas, according to a 2018 analysis of global production in the journal Science. U.S. livestock producers generally have lower emissions than worldwide averages because of production efficiencies.

Jamie Oliver discussing his book “Ultimate Veg: Easy & Delicious Meals for Everyone.” Picture: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Meanwhile, a backlash is stirring among rural Republican politicians who scent a new battleground in the partisan culture wars. In broad swaths of the Heartland, cattle and the rows of corn grown for animal feed are central to livelihood and identity. More than a third of U.S. farms and ranches are beef cattle operations, making it the single largest segment of U.S. agriculture. Burgers sizzle from countless backyard barbecues.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts seized on a suggestion by his Democratic counterpart in neighbouring Colorado that the state’s residents cut red meat for one day to counter with a “Meat on the Menu” Day. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds outdid him, declaring all of April “Meat on the Menu Month.” Fox News later spent days promoting phony accusations the Biden administration had launched a “War on Beef.”

It hasn’t, but there is no escaping the fact that beef is a climate villain. Cows’ ruminant digestive system ferments grass and other feed in multiple stomach compartments, burping methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Cattle’s relatively long lifespan compared to other meat sources adds to their climate impact.

Globally, 14.5% of human-driven greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock production, with cattle responsible for two-thirds, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Per gram of protein, beef production has more than 6 times the climate impact of pork, more than 8 times that of poultry and 113 times that of peas, according to a 2018 analysis of global production in the journal Science. U.S. livestock producers generally have lower emissions than worldwide averages because of production efficiencies.

Cattle producers have sought to blunt the appeal of competing faux meat products with state laws banning them from using common meat terms and addressed environmental criticism by promoting the role of ranchers as stewards of the land.

“That Wild West is alive and well because cattle producers protect that space and make it resilient,” said Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of natural resources for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

For now, an emerging global middle class in China and elsewhere is bolstering global demand for meat and feed-grains used for livestock, improving export opportunities for American farmers and ranchers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said Biden administration climate initiatives won’t target meat consumption.

Investors are rushing into plant-based and cultivated faux meat startups. A Boston Consulting Group report in March heralded the beginning of a “protein transformation” and forecast meat alternatives would make up 11-22% of the global protein market by 2035. A Kearney study projects global meat sales will begin to drop by 2025 and decline 33% by 2040 as alternatives take away market share.

Much as falling costs for natural gas, wind and solar power were drivers in shutting down coal plants reviled by environmentalists, pocketbook decisions will be crucial, said Carsten Gerhardt, a Kearney partner who consults for agribusiness and co-authored the study. Trends suggest alternatives are well on their way to “parity” in taste and texture and will soon beat conventional meat on price, he said.

Plant-based alternatives already have hit the mass market, with Burger King’s Impossible Whopper. Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks serve plant-based sausage patties. Even Tyson Foods Inc, the US’s largest meat processor, joined in this month with its own line of 100% vegan meat products.

Impossible plant based meat at a grocery store in Los Angeles. Picture: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg

Cultivated meat is also advancing. In December, Singapore became the first country to approve commercial sale of such animal cells.

More than half of roughly 350 school districts in the U.S. supplied by food service giant Sodexo SA have switched from all-beef to blended beef-mushroom burgers and many corporate and health-care customers also use the blend for tacos and lasagna, said Lisa Feldman, director of recipe management. Corporate customers are adopting “choice architecture” to steer employees toward meals with less meat.

A consortium of 41 colleges including Harvard, Stanford and Kansas State University joined in a “Menus of Change” collaborative to shift students to healthier, more climate-friendly diets. Harvard dining halls showcase vegetable and grain-heavy “bistro bowls.” The University of North Texas has a “Mean Greens” vegan dining hall. In 2019, the 19 member institutions that reported data lowered meat purchases 9.4% from the year earlier, even as overall food purchases rose.

Sophie Egan, co-director of the university collaborative, said the initiative consciously targets young people to shape food preferences at a time of life when most are more adventurous and still forming identities and tastes for a lifetime. Students are often especially open to dishes inspired by global cuisines that use less meat.

“We know trends start with the youngest generations,” Egan said. “They’re coming in to the dining hall three times a day, sometimes for years. That’s sculpting their food identities for many years to come.”

© 2021 Bloomberg

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Another BS article from woke Bloomberg

And MW doing its good parts in the disinformation by reporting..

Has any of these experts considered the methane production of 7 billion people surviving on cabbage, unions and beans.

“U.S. livestock producers generally have lower emissions than worldwide averages because of production efficiencies”.

So American cattle burp and fart less than foreign ones ? Sounds like the technology should be shared, Biden must come up with patent waivers.

In a survey, half the people agreed that the other half should stop eating red meat.

This is totally insane. Before the massive meat farming, the same plains now filled with millions of livestock, were filled with millions of game, of all sizes. Nothing has changed. The huge herds of buffalo and other game have now been replaced by huge herds of cattle and sheep. Or will someone now try to tell me that the buffalo emitted pure lavender?

There is shocking ignorance in this statement. You really should read up on the modern-day livestock industry. There is NO comparison between the buffalo roaming the great plans 150 years ago and livestock farming today.

These cattle do not roam the plains grazing on grass and dying natural deaths. They are cooped up in vast feedlots and artificially fattened on soy products, and pumped full of antibiotics and steroids. The faster they get fat enough to slaughter, the better. Its a totally artificial environment.

Apart from the vast amounts of land given over to keeping these cattle, even MORE land is devoted to growing the feed for them. This is really the issue. This is what has led to deforestation in Brazil, where farmers raze rainforest to plant soy products to supply the beef industry.

Grass-fed beef remains the most ecologically responsible way to raise cattle but this is only part of the industry (although growing as people become more aware of farming practices). It’s all about costs. You think McDonalds and the thousands of other fast food outlets are using grass-fed beef given what they charge for a burger?

The majority of beef still comes from industrial feedlots because they make the most profit that way, which is the ultimate driving concern. If we demand more grass-fed beef that’s raised organically, we’ll get it. The consumer drives change.

They are artificially fed indeed everything in the environment is artificially raised. Look at the quality of beef being raised and grazed compared to the quality being artificially fed. You can actually tell the difference. The natural grazers live longer than the artificially fed pumped up ones because the quality of meat is far more natural. Meat is only good when it’s bred in a compete natural environment. Have you tasted processed beef compare to actual beef that was purchased on a farm and naturally grazed, massive difference. It’s for the big business in livestock feed hence the more soya the better the profits for the conglomerates that control the feed industry. If you noticed over the years the portions are all getting smaller and costs more. Back then you could tell the difference between a 200G ribs and a gigantic 400 g ribs today, in the restaurants the the 400g rib is equavalent to 200g and the quality and taste not great.

If you do a like for like comparison between production of Soya, Sunflower, Corn, Wheat etc. to Meat farming, the carbon footprint of Meat works out at only a fraction.

There is no better nutrition available than in Red Meat. No wonder it is called a Complete protein. It also contains valuable nutrients like Vit.B, C, D, E, Folic Acid and Vit.K, Iron. The quantities of which are not available in plants. You have to eat a ton of i.e. spinach to get the equal amount of Iron in Red Meat. If you attempt to get your protein from soya or lentils, you end up taking Omega 3 and Omega 6 up in the opposite relation to what is necessary for your body. (1:5 in plants vs 10:1 in Meat). You also need to eat about a kg or more of it to serve in your daily need for protein.

Also plants contain a number of anti-oxidants – Lectin, Oxalates – which naturally attempt to prevent people and other animals from eating them, from being able to absorb some essential nutrients (Absorption inhibition).

Utter rubbish. If this was true, 40% of India’s population would be suffering from malnutrition.

You’re right. There is actually more than 40% of India’s population in malnutrition.

@Dr Gonzo :

They do suffer from malnutrition indeed.

Physiologically speaking, have you ever seen the average Indian ?

Ever seen an Indian in the boxing ring ?

Olympics ?

Weightlifting ?

Whatever rural Republicans are for, I’m against. We eat less beef because its expensive and not good for you. Unfortunately at present ‘meatless’ products are even more expensive! So we eat chicken and pork. We would eat more fish but in JHB that’s more expensive than beef. One doesn’t always have the option of going meatless. One’s food budget — which never stops growing — is a definite factor!

That said the price of meat in restaurants is beyond ridiculous. Went out for a birthday meal recently and a 600 gram rack of babyback ribs was R212. We purchased a box of ribs from WW over the weekend that fed three of us for less than that. I don’t know how restaurants stay open quite frankly.

Some of us eat beef because it’s good for us. Plenty protein, plus all essential amino acids and fat soluble vitamins, Iron and Zinc. You won’t find that in a MacD burger, because its majority soya.

Dr Gonzo and their ilk, here to suddenly change human species and our animal product diet that meanwhile sustained us over many millennia, and which made our forefathers pioneers and one of the strongest breeds to ever walk the earth.

Now, vegans have arrived to convince us ‘meat is bad, peanuts are good’

While behind the curtains, the elite engorge and sustain themselves on meat simultaneously hoodwinking everyone else with their NWO agenda, rendering the masses weak and submissive.

Nice.

Sustainability is relative. What was sustainable millennia ago is not necessarily sustainable today. The fact is that the huge growth in consumption of red meats like beef has seen increased methane emissions and an increase in health problems. The argument that richer people are “hoodwinking” the masses is somewhat irrelevant since beef is detrimental to the entire environment and thus population. In South Africa, the poor have the most to lose since they will be the most effected by human caused climate change.

@Idkyhedabs

Oh right – so the earth is worse off because of cow farts !??

The only ‘methane emissions’ is the hot air being produced by the corrupt governments and their puppet masters.

End of comments.

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