A grilled turkey, spinach and pomegranate salad

White Over Red Meat

If going meat-free is too far for you, consider scrapping red meat, the numbers speak for themselves!



White Over Red Meat

 

If veganism and vegetarianism is a bridge too far for you, and they’re not for everyone, another way you can reduce your carbon footprint by way of diet, is to replace red meat with white meat.

1. A look at the stats

2. How to make the switch

3. Become inspired and stay motivated

4. 5 easy and delicious recipe ideas

5. Health benefits

If veganism and vegetarianism is a bridge too far for you, and they’re not for everyone, another way you can reduce your carbon footprint by way of diet, is to replace red meat with white meat.

1. A look at the stats

2. How to make the switch

3. Become inspired and stay motivated

4. 5 easy and delicious recipe ideas

5. Health benefits

A look at the stats

This table shows the CO2 emissions produced by one kilo of each food. It includes all the emissions produced on the farm, in the factory, on the road, in the shop and in your home.

According to Foodtank, the total amount of water needed to produce one pound of beef is 6809 liters of water; one pound of pork takes 2180 liters of water. In comparison, the water footprint of poultry is 1771 liters. While 2 – 5 acres of land are required per cow compared to 1 acre for 50 – 100 free range chickens.

The stats speak for themselves, choosing white over red meat goes a long way towards reducing your impact on our ecosystems.

Table adapted from Green Eatz figures from the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide and the EPA’s Guide to Passenger Vehicle Emissions. Further scientific reading provided in the references.

A look at the stats

This table shows the CO2 emissions produced by one kilo of each food. It includes all the emissions produced on the farm, in the factory, on the road, in the shop and in your home.

According to Foodtank, the total amount of water needed to produce one pound of beef is 6809 liters of water; one pound of pork takes 2180 liters of water. In comparison, the water footprint of poultry is 1771 liters. While 2 – 5 acres of land are required per cow compared to 1 acre for 50 – 100 free range chickens.

The stats speak for themselves, choosing white over red meat goes a long way towards reducing your impact on our ecosystems.

Table adapted from Green Eatz figures from the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide and the EPA’s Guide to Passenger Vehicle Emissions. Further scientific reading provided in the references.

How to make the switch

Contrary to popular belief a new habit takes a bit longer than 21 days to form completely…

Researchers from University College London published an article in which they estimate the average time to be 66 days with some variation between people and habits. So, you needn’t go cold turkey on your red meat, no pun intended, but rather reduce red meat consumption over 66 days to build the habit. Over a 66 day period, someone eating 100g of white meat each day vs a person eating 100g of red meat would reduce their carbon footprint by 113 kilos of CO2 or 267 car miles.

Half a roast chicken with topped with rosemary, accompanied with broccoli and pumpkin
Half a roast chicken with topped with rosemary, accompanied with broccoli and pumpkin

How to make the switch

Contrary to popular belief a new habit takes a bit longer than 21 days to form completely…

Researchers from University College London published an article in which they estimate the average time to be 66 days with some variation between people and habits. So, you needn’t go cold turkey on your red meat, no pun intended, but rather reduce red meat consumption over 66 days to build the habit. Over a 66 day period, someone eating 100g of white meat each day vs a person eating 100g of red meat would reduce their carbon footprint by 113 kilos of CO2 or 267 car miles.

Animal Agriculture Cattle Feeding

Replacing the carbon-heavy beef on your plate with carbon-light chicken will cut your dietary carbon footprint in half.

Become inspired and stay

 

Take advantage of the challenge to reduce red meat consumption by experimenting with new dishes, recipes and ideas with white meats.

There is a wealth of cooking ideas on the internet and/or easy to follow recipe books in all good book shops. Invite a friend, family member or work colleague to join you on the challenge. Having someone in the same predicament as yourself makes the switch much easier.

Here are 5 easy and delicious white meat dishes one should have in their repertoire.

Chicken / Turkey Fajitas with Guacamole
A lady doing a hand stand at the beach alongside her golden retriever dog

Health Benefits

By opting for white over red, you will not only be reducing your carbon footprint, but helping to improve your health.

According to the NHS and Heart Org, red meats such as beef, lamb and pork are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet. But eating a lot of red meat, which in general has more saturated and trans fats than white meats, can raise your blood cholesterol, increase the chances of heart disease and increase the probability of bowel cancer. It is therefore recommended that people who eat more than 90g of red meat per day cut down to 70g to reduce these risks. By opting for white over red, you will not only be reducing your carbon footprint, but helping to improve your health.

Become inspired and stay motivated

Take advantage of the challenge to reduce red meat consumption by experimenting with new dishes, recipes and ideas with white meats.

There is a wealth of cooking ideas on the internet and/or easy to follow recipe books in all good book shops. Invite a friend, family member or work colleague to join you on the challenge. Having someone in the same predicament as yourself makes the switch much easier.

Here are 5 easy and delicious white meat dishes one should have in their repertoire.

A bowl of Thai green curry

Chicken Thai Green Curry

Health Benefits

By opting for white over red, you will not only be reducing your carbon footprint, but helping to improve your health.

According to the NHS and Heart Org, red meats such as beef, lamb and pork are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and can form part of a balanced diet. But eating a lot of red meat, which in general has more saturated and trans fats than white meats, can raise your blood cholesterol, increase the chances of heart disease and increase the probability of bowel cancer. It is therefore recommended that people who eat more than 90g of red meat per day cut down to 70g to reduce these risks. By opting for white over red, you will not only be reducing your carbon footprint, but helping to improve your health.

A lady doing a hand stand at the beach alongside her golden retriever dog

Cutting back

Meat consumption is a delicate issue for many, but the researchers are not saying that you should stop eating steak and burgers entirely; rather that reducing your intake will significantly cut your carbon footprint.

Cutting back on beef will reduce your carbon footprint

Cutting back

Replacing the carbon-heavy beef on your plate with carbon-light chicken will cut your dietary carbon footprint in half.

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes” Durk Nijdam, Trudy Rood, Henk Westhoek 2012, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Food Policy, Elsevier – sciencedirect.com ✅
  2.  
  3. 2. “Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU livestock sector: A life cycle assessment carried out with the CAPRI model” Franz Weiss Adrian Leip 2012, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Elsevier – sciencedirect.com ✅
  4.  
  5. 3. “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers” – J. Poore, T. Nemecek 2018 – Science AAAS – sciencemag.org  ✅
  6.  
  7. 4. “National Diet and Nutrition Survey“- Public Health Englandgov.uk
  8.  
  9. 5. “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world” – Phillippa Lally, Cornelia H. M. van Jaarsveld
    Henry W. W. Potts Jane Wardle 2009, European Journal of Social Psycology – onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  10.  
  11. 6. “Food’s Carbon Footprint” – greeneatz.com
  12.  
  13. 7. “Livestock’s Long Shadow” – Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations, 2006 – fao.org
  14.  
  15. 8. “Meat’s large water footprint: why raising livestock and poultry for meat is so resource-intensive” – Kai Olson-Sawyer – Foodtank – foodtank.com

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes” Durk Nijdam, Trudy Rood, Henk Westhoek 2012, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Food Policy, Elsevier – sciencedirect.com ✅
  2.  
  3. 2. “Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU livestock sector: A life cycle assessment carried out with the CAPRI model” Franz Weiss Adrian Leip 2012, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Elsevier – sciencedirect.com ✅
  4.  
  5. 3. “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers” – J. Poore, T. Nemecek 2018 – Science AAAS – sciencemag.org  ✅
  6.  
  7. 4. “National Diet and Nutrition Survey“- Public Health Englandgov.uk
  8.  
  9. 5. “How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world” – Phillippa Lally, Cornelia H. M. van Jaarsveld
    Henry W. W. Potts Jane Wardle 2009, European Journal of Social Psycology – onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  10.  
  11. 6. “Food’s Carbon Footprint” – greeneatz.com
  12.  
  13. 7. “Livestock’s Long Shadow” – Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations, 2006 – fao.org
  14.  
  15. 8. “Meat’s large water footprint: why raising livestock and poultry for meat is so resource-intensive” – Kai Olson-Sawyer – Foodtank – foodtank.com