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I am interested in a healthy diet and consume healthy meats and animal fats. However, I am also concerned about sustainability. What do you say about the sustainability of producing traditionally raised meat? I’ve heard claims that it takes 4,000-18,000 gallons of water to produce 1 hamburger, that livestock contribute to most of the world’s greenhouse emissions, and I’ve read Cordain’s claim that if everyone adopted a more meat-based diet (for him the “paleo” diet) that the earth could only support about 1/10 of the population today. Are these legitimate concerns here? And what can I do to consume meat in the most sustainable way?
Much of the information going around today regarding the sustainability of producing traditionally-raised meat is simply not true. According to many experts, what is destroying our planet faster than anything else is commercial agriculture. I’m not talking about commercial animal husbandry where we’re growing chickens, lamb, and beef. I’m talking about agriculture. We are taking areas and stripping them of everything that would be there to support the planet. In their place, we are putting in soy bean and corn farms. Both are genetically modified and that’s where we’re actually destroying things. The best book on the subject of the sustainability of using meat versus being on vegetarian diets (there may be other good ones) is called The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith.
David Getoff, CCN, CTN, FAAIM, Price-Pottenger Vice President