Is Meatless Monday as environmentally beneficial as many activists say?
The answer, according to Frank Mitloehner, associate professor and air quality specialist at the University of California-Davis, is no.
In the latest “Meat Mythcrusher” installment from the American Meat Institute, Mitloehner discusses common myths and misconceptions about modern meat production touted by activists pushing for Meatless Monday.
“Well basically, all activities we are involved in – whether it’s driving or eating – all activities we are involved in have an impact on the carbon footprint. There is no exception,” Mitloehner said. “But just to put this into perspective, according to the EPA, transportation choices make up for 26 percent of the carbon footprint whereas livestock consumption makes up 3.4 percent.”
He adds, “what you often hear that livestock and meat products rival transportation choices with respect to environmental footprint – that is just a myth.”
Instead, Mitloehner points to other aspects of consumer lifestyles than can be changed to minimize the carbon footprint.
“Your transportation choices and your heating cooling choices have your greatest impact on the carbon footprint, there’s no doubt about that. Your food choices also have an impact on the carbon footprint, but it’s relatively minor compared to the others,” Mitloehner said.
In 2011, agriculture environmental/sustainability expert Judith Capper, PhD, responded to similar mths with a white paper called “The Myth of Meatless Monday.” Publishing by the Animal Agricultural Alliance, the white paper was in response to the Environmental Working Group’ recommendation that people eating meat-free one day a week will reduce their carbon footprint.
Capper said that pointing the finger at certain foods is not the answer to reducing the carbon footprint on the earth.
“Forget demonizing specific foods, or suggesting that one single action can save the planet. We need to understand and quantify how all our choices have consequences – and act accordingly,” she wrote.