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Carbon Emissions Released From Cattle Production

By Riley Martin

Photography by Zakai Avidor

A typical diet for an average American includes a 20% intake of protein. For meat-eaters this means, on average, according to the Department of Agriculture, “Americans ate an average of 55.5 pounds of beef in 2016, up from 54 pounds in just 2015.” America is annually increasing its beef consumption by an average of 2 pounds each year; this resulted in a record high consumption rate reached in 2018. 

Although beefeaters have upped their beef intake, they might feel obliged to decrease the frequency of it in their diets. This being that cattle production created more carbon emissions than most heavily outputting fossil fuel companies like Chevron and Exxon, both major gas companies in collection over the past years. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stated, “Agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide; cattle production is responsible for 60% of the 18%.” They came to this conclusion by the combination of food intake, along with the feces production of the cattle. A healthy diet for a cow would be grass-fed, where its stomach could properly digest everything, however; to keep up with the demand of the product, farmers needed to shorten the lifespan synthetically. The weight of a cow reached in five years from a primarily grass diet can now be reached in a matter of 12-14 months, with the use of artificial feed to quicken the growth, according to the FAO. To create the feed produces an extremely harmful carbon footprint. Scientists from TimeForChange.org stated, “Cows feces are made up of methane, which each cow produces about 70-120 kilograms of methane a year.” Methane is a greenhouse gas that creates 23 times the environmental effect that CO2 creates. 

Eliminating the demand for beef would result in the cow being given less artificial feed. Therefore, there will be less emissions released on the environment which in return causes a positive spiral of events to restore our atmosphere and physical environment.  Our big companies have decided that instead of producing grass-fed cows, which are healthier, but take longer to mature, they choose an environmental and dietary hazard instead.