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Moving From A High Meat Diet To A Low Meat Diet

Moving from a high meat diet to a low meat diet

Moving from a high meat diet to a low meat diet

Meat the future, it’s not as bad as meats the eye.

I’m sure lots of you have seen recent articles about how moving from a high meat diet to a low meat diet can half your emissions footprint by half and if all high meat diets made the switch,  it would be the equivalent of taking 8 million cars off the roads. We will say that again, just so no one thinks it’s another intentional spelling mistake… eight millions cars.

A lot of people don’t realize the extremely high emissions that are associated with meat production or why, so we are going to break it down for you in this blog post.

Land usage

Pretty much everyone should know about the Amazon rainforest being chopped down. What a lot of people probably don’t know, is that the Amazon rainforest is being cleared, predominately to grow cereals. “That’s not so bad. It’s still going to absorb all that pesky CO2 and convert it to our lovely oxygen” you’ll all say. This is true, but 1 large tree will sequester a lot more CO2 than the equivalent footprint of corn, the tree will also provide shade, keep the ground cooler and help keep moisture in the soil to help more plants grow (which also sequester CO2 and emit oxygen).

“So now we’ve got tonnes more cereal, that’s great, we can feed more people with corn than we can with trees” you all say. Partly true, can’t argue with that until you realize that nearly all of those cereals are being grown to feed animals. That’s correct, we’re clearing trees and removing CO2 scrubbers at an alarming rate (approximately the size of Wales each year). We’re warming up the planet, because the cereals don’t provide shade and we’re stripping the ground of all nutrients, because cereals only take from the soil. We then have to introduce fertilizers to the soils, which then get washed into the rivers and seas. We’re then having to spray lots of chemicals on all those crops to stop pesky insects eating the crops, which in turn ruins entire animal ecosystems and these also get washed into the rivers and seas.

Now for the statistics

Eating meat creates more greenhouse gases

How much carbon dioxide do different types of diet produce per person* each day?

How much carbon dioxide do different types of diet produce per person* each day? High Meat: 10.24kg, Low Meat: 5.37kg, Fish: 4.74kg, Vegetarian: 4.16kg, Vegan: 2.47kg

*Based on an adult eating 2,000 calories a day   |   source: LEAP Project/Nature Foods. BBC

So far we’ve realized that valuable forests are being cleared, chemicals added to the soil (and rivers and seas, which in turn kills river and sea animals), corn is being grown and then that corn is harvested and shipped around the world to feed animals.

Interesting fact, this might earn you points at a pub quiz one day… did you know that over 80% of the emissions associated with beef come from cow wind? Cows are ruminants; they have 4 stomachs, their diet is designed to make lots of milk or beef from that cow (or bull) which causes a lot of upset stomachs, sometimes multiple upset stomachs in the same animal, which in turn produces methane that the cows then release, contributing to climate change.

But we love cows… they’re tasty

Ok, cards on the table, the author of this article loves a good steak or good English fry-up, but he’s also realized that things do need to change, and those changes need to start at home. Thankfully we don’t all need to go and clear the fridge of steaks, but maybe it’s time to think about reducing how often we eat meat. I used to eat meat every day, I was a poster person for the meat industry, but nowadays I do 3 meat free days a week, one of the 4 meat days we always have sustainable line caught fish. Over the summer I’ll move to more meat-free days and less meat ones. In all honesty I’ll probably eat meat for a while yet, but eventually we’ll look to move to vegetarian diet.

How about an argument based on budget?

Meat is also expensive to buy, it might not taste the same as steak, but you make a really healthy chickpea curry for a lot less than it costs to buy meat for a family of 5.

That’s it, simple, even if everyone just switched from high meat diet to a low meat diet, we could reduce emissions equivalent to removing roughly 4 million cars from the road, wouldn’t that make everyone breathe easier?

Be a net-zero hero

At eco-shaper, we drive action on climate change and streamline carbon footprinting. For example, we can help calculate emissions across the entire ecosystem that companies work across and produce automated reporting based on outcomes. Contact us to be part of our research group on

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