Find Out Why Cutting Back on Beef is Actually Good for You and the Planet


Whether you eat it yourself or not, beef is a staple in millions of households all around the world, with Americans ranking the highest when it comes to beef consumption. Regardless of this particular meat, whether it’s shredded, baked, fried, grilled, pan seared, corned or ground, beef makes up at least 58 pounds of a person’s diet per year in the United States alone. And if that isn’t shocking enough, the rest of the world only averages a bit over14 pounds for person, per year.

And while it’s a favorite meat choice, evidence continues to grow that refusing to eat beef is actually a much better choice, not only for humans but for the planet as well. In fact, some publications like Prevention have even opted to stop making new recipes containing beef to showcase starting September 2020. So why is beef bad for you and planet in the first place? Read on to find out! 

Beef Creates Issues for the Planet

According to a study that was accomplished in 2018 and published in the journal Nature, it found that raising animals – especially cattle – is actually a very inefficient business. While raising livestock takes up around 83% of the world’s farmland, it only produces 37% of total protein and 18% of the total calories. Plus to make matters worse, the farmland isn’t considered sustainable since a 2006 study showed that industrialized beef production is actually accountable for up to 80% of the Amazon’s deforestation. 

It has proven to be harder on the planet than other type of animal protein sources like pork, poultry and dairy. There are smaller and more sustainable operations that do practice managed grazing, but the protein sources that have the least negative environmental effect are actually nuts, tofu, eggs and grains.

Health and Environmental Benefits go Hand-in-Hand

When you use the term ‘red meat’ in America, then chances are that you are referring to beef. And like many studies show, red meat is associated with high risks of major health issues like cancer and heart disease. One study that was completed in 2019 by researchers from the University of Minnesota managed to find the connected between the “health of our bodies to the health of our environment.”

The study went on to share, “Foods associated with the largest negative environmental impacts – unprocessed and processed red meat – are consistently associated with the largest increases in disease risk.” It also goes on to say, “Thus, dietary transitions toward greater consumption of healthier foods would generally improve environmental sustainability.”

Small Personal Changes Make Big Differences

The director of health campaigns at the National Resources Defense Council, Sujatha Bergen, explains that when consumers are aware of these types of issues with beef and how they can negatively affect the planet, it helps them make informed decisions about their protein buying choices. Bergen iterates, “If every American, on average, cut the equivalent of a burger out of their diet per week, it would be the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road each year.” 

“Changing your diet is a great way to fight global warming with your fork,” Bergen adds.

The president and co-founder of the Reducetarian Foundation, Mr. Brian Kateman, explains that individuals can make an impact by simply lessening the amount of meat people eat. He shares, “Buying a Tesla is not something everyone can do. There’s plenty of opportunity for people to move meat away from the center of their plates, and make vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes the stars of their meals.”

Kateman goes on to explain, “Meat consumption isn’t an all-or-nothing premise. [You] might feel intimidated by veganism or vegetarianism, but if we can get a large majority of people to cut back by a small amount, that’s going to make an even greater difference than a small number of highly committed people going vegetarian or vegan.” 

To make things even better, the recommendation is to buy from local farmers that have already committed to practicing sustainability in order to show their support for the rest of the planet.

For those that want to join in the movement for change, while the suggestion doesn’t mean to remove beef from their diets completely, it does say that one should definitely choose to be more mindful about the beef they still consume, as well as knowing where the meat comes from. By thinking about where the meat comes from and the way it’s farmed will already help with the ongoing issues of the planet today, as well as help out future generations as well.