A recent study has found that lettuce is up to three times more harmful to the environment than meat, due to its carbon emissions. At first, this might seem a little crazy: how is it possible, when giving up meat will decrease carbon emissions to a greater degree than if you stopped driving? The study alleges that lettuce is worse for the environment than meat because:
- Lettuce contains a smaller amount of calories, so you have to eat more to get the same calorie count as two rashers of smoked bacon.
- Transporting lettuce increases your carbon footprint due to carbon miles that are used to get the produce to you.
- Lettuce will start to expire before it reaches the dinner table. This can result in food waste.
- Lettuce is considered difficult to grow and harvest because it requires lots of resources, such as water.
Points to Consider:
Okay, so I have a few issues with these points as I’m sure you do.
- First, why would we have to eat the same calorie count of lettuce as bacon? We're not really solely filling up on lettuce! Added to this, if you choose locally-produced produce, this is not going to result in such high emissions from transport.
- Second, why would cabbage perish before it hits the dinner table? Isn’t that a bit dramatic? Sure, bacon will have a much longer expiry date but it has resulted in the unnecessary death of pigs even before it reaches the table. How is killing animals good for the environment? It’s also worth mentioning here that bacon contains nitrates, chemical compounds that have been linked to cancer.
- Lettuce might be difficult to grow, but how much worse for the environment would it be to continue rearing animals so that they can be slaughtered? Lettuce has a water footprint of 237 litres per kilogram, while pork has 5988 litres per kilogram.
Before meat eaters get happy about this study, they should bear in mind that lamb and beef are meats that create the most emissions - much more than pork. And, beef is still worse for the environment than lettuce.
*Image courtesy studiodr / Dollar Photo Club