Via Ecofriendly Company, 27-04-2010

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal husbandry contributes more to global warming than the whole of the transport sector. This news is also significant to many canteens and restaurants. The employees favourite: steak as a climate killer? 51% (study by Worldwatch Institute) of all CO2 emissions worldwide are caused by the production, transport and processing of foodstuffs. The share of meat production in CO2 emissions is 50 times higher that that of vegetable production.

The some 13 million cattle in Germany ensure that we always have fresh meat on our dinner tables and in the company canteen. They give out some 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, which corresponds to 30% of the emissions given out by the traffic on the roads of Germany – irrespective of whether we are talking about organic beef or not.

A Japanese study by the National Research Institute for Agriculture determined that, in cattle farming, a cow emits gases that correspond to a greenhouse effect of some 36 kilograms of CO2. from the moment its is born to the moment it is slaughtered By way of comparison, our cars emit some 37.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide each time we drive 250 km. Transporting the beef is not included in the calculation here. Amongst other things, this calculation includes the energy needed to produce the fodder, and the methane emitted by the cattle during digestion. In addition, manure has a negative effect on the ground and water quality.

The Carbon Foodprint for various types of meat:

Pork & poultry:  3.5 kilos CO2/kilo meat
Beef:                 13.3 kilos CO2/kilo meat

The large difference comes from the fact that cattle produce methane and nitrous oxide.

In contrast, fresh, seasonal cultivated organically vegetables perform much better in comparison. The climate balance equivalence for organic vegetables is just 1% CO2 compared to beef.

In Sweden recently, fast food restaurants started putting the CO2 footprint on the meals that they sell. In the EU however, the right method for introducing a CO2 label for foodstuffs has still not been found.

For eco-friendly company canteens, the motto may now be to reduce the consumption of meat to a reasonable level to lower the CO2 footprint.

One positive example of this just happens to be the canteen at a company whose name would not normally be associated with this: irrespective of the fact that pumas are pure carnivores, many of the employees working at the company with the same name stopped eating meat some time ago! One of the reasons for this is that the canteen at Puma now supports a Meat free Monday, which means that absolutely no meat is served on Mondays, and the employees get to enjoy health vegetarian meals. The architect of this initiative is ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, who has been a vegetarian for 20 years.

Those who personally consider giving up meat for purely climate-technical reasons should keep an eye on the life cycle assessment for other foodstuffs. What consumers also need to ensure is that they eat organic produce and that they stop eating frozen foods like French fries, since this also has a positive effect on their individual climate balance.

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