Climate change is the most complex challenge facing the world, and industrial meat production is one of its biggest causes.

The livestock sector is one of the biggest culprits in greenhouse gas production. Animal farming generates 14.5% of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, according to the FAO.

Producing a kilogram of beef in intensive farming systems emits a quantity of greenhouse gases equivalent to 36.4 kg of carbon dioxide. That’s the same as the average emissions produced by a car during a 250-kilometer journey.

But do meat, milk, cheese, and eggs produced with sustainable, extensive, and animal welfare-friendly practices also have a serious impact on the planet?

Slow Food is working with producers to measure and reduce the impact of production on the environment.

In collaboration with INDACO2, INDicatori e CO2, a spin-off from the University of Siena, the environmental sustainability of some companies in the Slow Food network, most of which belong to the Slow Food Presidia, has been evaluated, analyzing their entire life cycle.

The results show that the emissions generated by extensive and small-scale farms are in general much lower and, in particular, their emissions are offset by the presence of plant cover on the farms. Vegetation acts as a carbon sink (carbon uptake) and, in some cases, captures more carbon than the farm emits.

These results confirm, thanks to a quantitative analysis based on scientific methodologies, the sustainability of the production systems that are the protagonists of Slow Food projects. Promoting these products, purchasing them, consuming them, and supporting those who work in often marginal and difficult areas contributes to limiting global warming and encouraging the development of sustainable, quality agriculture.

 

To find out more about the impact of meat production, click here

To find out more about how the impacts were assessed, click here

To find out more about a meatless healthy climate-friendly diet, click here

 

[Sources for these pages available here]
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