The Environmental Outlook: Meat Consumption And Its Effects On The Planet

Cows graze on grass at the Stemple Creek Ranch on April 24, 2014 in Tomales, California. - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cows graze on grass at the Stemple Creek Ranch on April 24, 2014 in Tomales, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Environmental Outlook: Meat Consumption And Its Effects On The Planet

Many environmental scientists say producing livestock for food leaves a heavy carbon footprint, but critics argue harm to the environment is minimal. For this month's Environmental Outlook, how eating meat affects the planet.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report in 2006 on the carbon footprint caused by livestock production. The FAO said 18 percent of greenhouses gases could be attributed to raising animals for food. The World Bank followed with an even starker report. Producing meat requires huge quantities of feed, pesticides and water. Also, cattle and other animals release methane gas and waste. The meat industry and other critics say environmental harm from livestock has been greatly overstated. For this month’s Environmental Outlook, how meat consumption affects the planet.

Guests

Michael Pollan

professor of science and environmental journalism, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation."

Jude Capper

livestock sustainability consultant in Bozeman, Montana; adjunct professor of animal sciences at Washington State University and an affiliate of Montana State University.

Scott Faber

senior vice president for government affairs, Environmental Working Group; former vice president, the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Ask The Experts: Scott Faber and Michael Pollan Answer Your Questions

We took listener questions about meat and the environment from our website, along with our Facebook and Twitter pages, and asked our experts to offer some insight.

Ask The Experts: Meat Consumption

How Have Our Eating Habits Changed?

Click through each category to see which kinds of meats we're eating more -- and which are being consumed less.

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