Stop Eating Beef to Curb Pollution


Target: Forrest L. Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Goal: Stop eating cow products until the beef industry curbs its negative environmental impact

According to a recent report, beef pollutes the environment far worse than any other animal proteins, including poultry or pork. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and found that beef produces five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out six times more water-polluting nitrogen, takes 11 times more water for irrigation, and uses 28 times the land than other animal proteins.

Setting ethical and moral points aside for a moment, cows are not efficient in converting animal feed into protein for human consumption. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has pointed out that the beef industry has recently improved its environmental sustainability and that U.S. beef produces less greenhouse gas emissions that other countries. However, Americans also consume more beef than most other countries.

The lead author of the study, Gidon Eshel, estimated that each American who switches from beef to pork would reduce the equivalent of 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, which is about nine days’ worth of the nation’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Ken Caldeira, an environmental scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, said that “eating a pound of beef causes more greenhouse warming than burning a gallon of gasoline.”

Sign the below petition to urge the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to take this study and others like it seriously to curb the environment impact of their business. If nothing can be done to lessen the negative environmental effects of beef production, then it’s time for serious changes in the American diet.


Dear Mr. Roberts,

Although the U.S. beef industry has taken steps to become more environmentally sustainable and curb greenhouse gases, the recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that beef is still much more harmful than other animal proteins. This was one of the most comprehensive studies conducted that compared the U.S. environmental costs of different meats.

Cows produce a large amount of methane gas through belching and manure, which is much more potent and harmful than carbon dioxide. Beef produces five times more heat-trapping gases per calorie and puts out six times more nitrogen that other meats. Nitrogen from manure fertilizer runoff damages waterways and depletes oxygen supplies.

I am urging you to work with environmental scientists to study whether beef production can become more environmentally sustainable than it currently is.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mike via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. paula eaton says:

    Stop eating animal flesh of all species. The livestock industry from the factory farm, feedlots and slaughterhouse creates an environmental problems.

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