Cutting out beef is the easiest thing to do to fight climate change
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Before we start, let's clarify one thing: the act of eating meat doesn't make you a bad person. This Action Pack isn't about meat ethics. We're focusing on why meat eating, in our current system of factory farming, is bad for the environment.
The focus of this topic is to navigate our way to more earth-friendly diets and unpacking WHY meat eating contributes to climate change. It's not about shame or judgment — as always, we're here because we're all doing our best.
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
As you go on this plant-based learning journey, we hope we can anchor on the knowledge that humans have eaten meat for centuries and NOT caused climate change... but unfortunately, in today's world, meat is an inexcusable part of the problem.
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
It's time to unpack our meat-filled suitcase with an interactive article by Carbon Brief. They've provided an overview of the climate impact of eating meat and dairy.
Let's start with this graph and then review some key takeaways from the article. You can click the image to see the full thing; this is a snippet from a chart of food and its corresponding emissions.
You'll learn that:
If you have more questions on this knowledge gathering section, block some time off to read the whole Carbon Brief article. We're gearing up for the fight against cow farts.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
We just learned that beef is basically the worst food for the climate. Why, though?This 4-minute video explains it all.
Here are three key things that make beef production so destructive:
All in all, beef is terribly expensive, and we're paying for it with the future of the Earth. There are so many alternatives to beef-eating as the first step to a more sustainable diet, and we'll explore those next.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
The one simple action you can take now is to cut out beef.
Previously, we showed you what to give up next — if you’re already a vegan, for example, you can focus on dark chocolate/coffee, or you can shift your energy to something other than food. (Like having conversations with friends and family, which is the most important thing we can do to heal the climate crisis!)
The goal is to shift to planet-friendly food that makes us feel good. Of course, there is SO much nuance when we talk about food and we have to find what works for us + create structural change. Here's a starting point:
1. Go plant-based.
Cutting out beef (and dairy) is a great place to start, but if you think it's something you can work on, try going fully plant-based! There are zillions of recipes to try online, and you can also think about cuisines that are plant-based without necessarily marketing themselves that way. For example, so much Indian food is vegetarian and even vegan, but you wouldn’t go out of your way to describe it as such.
2. Donate $20 to end factory farming.
CIWF, or Compassion in World Farming, has a track record of getting policy and institutional change passed to increase animal welfare and decrease CO2 emissions. Set up a recurring donation for maximum impact.
3. Make your pets do the work.
Here’s your chance to make someone else work hard on your behalf. Get your pets to go beef/meat-free if you need some more time. For dogs, check out our affiliate link with A Pup Above and select the chicken option. You can get 15% off with SOAPBOX15. Jiminy's also has healthy cricket protein-based food for pets and a bunch of cool facts on how sustainable cricket protein is.
Which actions are you committing to?
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable.
Here are some honorable article mentions before we skip to the... meat 😉
The winner is from PBS: In Nicaragua, supplying beef comes at a high human cost.
This 8-minute video and its accompanying transcript were WILD. When thinking about meat and food systems, we should focus on the system as a whole and the human impacts, not just over-anchor on CO2 emissions. It’s time for us to understand what’s been happening in Nicaragua, where meat is literally murder.
Here's the reality check:
We've focused on the environmental impact of meat and how beef is THE WORST in terms of emissions. If you're not convinced, maybe this will do it: Blood Diamond-style beef that’s not always traceable or regulated... think about that from a health perspective.
If you want to dive deeper, here's a thorough article from Mongabay News on the beef-related human rights and deforestation situation in Nicaragua. If you're feeling bogged down by this reflection, cook yourself a nice plant-based treat from the Minimalist Baker, recommended by one of our readers!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!