Cattle in a pasture

3 reasons beef supports a sustainable food system

Thanks to “internet experts” and fad diets, there’s a lot of information floating around about what foods we should and shouldn’t eat. The conversation has moved beyond nutrition and asks us to consider the societal and environmental impacts of the food we eat.

To help you cut through the confusion about food choices, we’ve got some cold hard facts about beef. See for yourself:

Small carbon footprint

Beef production, including the production of animal feed, is responsible for only 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. This is dramatically lower than the often-misapplied global livestock figure of 14.5 percent.

Many plant-based food advocates promote #MeatlessMondays and vegan diets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower their carbon footprint. However, research from the USDA Agricultural Research Service has demonstrated that removing all livestock and poultry from the U.S. food system would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by only 0.36 percent.

More from less

Now, let’s talk about efficiency. In the U.S., we produce the same amount of beef today with 33% fewer cattle compared to 1977. This is a result of better animal health and welfare, nutrition and genetics, all of which are supported by the Beef Quality Assurance Program. Beef farmers and ranchers rely on experts, such as nutritionists and veterinarians, to support herd health and production.

Cattle “upcycle” nutrients

Cattle are beneficial in a sustainable food system because of their unique stomach structure. Their stomach allows them to eat and digest what we as humans can’t. In addition to eating grasses, they are able to eat numerous byproducts from food production, such as brewers grains, pea pulp, beet tops, potato peelings and sunflower hulls. Instead of going to a landfill, cattle eat these “waste” products and turn them into a high-quality protein – meat!

Cattle also graze in areas where it’s impossible to grow crops. In places that could otherwise never be used to feed a growing population, such as the sand hills of Nebraska or the arid land of Nevada, cattle consume grasses and turn them into high-quality protein.

As we work together to build a healthier, more sustainable food supply for ourselves and future generations, think about making choices that are science-based, practical and highly impactful. So, what would you choose?