Americans Ate 20 Percent Less Meat in Last Decade

New data shows that Americans reduced their carbon footprint by 10 percent thanks in large part to cutting down meat consumption.


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A new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) revealed that Americans cut their diet-related carbon footprint by 10 percent between 2004 and 2015. NRDC attributed a large portion of this change—which avoided 271 million metric tons of climate-changing pollution—to a 19 percent drop in meat consumption, accounting for avoiding 185 million metric tons of pollution. “As the threat of climate change looms larger and larger,” the report states, “agricultural global warming pollution is coming under increased scrutiny.” NRDC revealed that producing one kilogram (approximately two pounds) of beef emits 26 kg (more than 57 pounds) of carbon dioxide, the highest footprint of the 197 foods the report examined and a contributor of 34 percent of the total diet-related per capita climate-warming pollution in 2014. In 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a similar report that found animal agriculture responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the transportation sector combined. Despite both of these reports (and many others), the most recent UN conference on climate change largely ignored the connection between animal agriculture and environmental destruction.