While answering a query over the role of vegetarianism in combating climate change in an event in Kerala, former union minister and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called the beef industry a “huge culprit” in global warming and said that a vegetarian diet is more has a lower carbon footprint than a non-vegetarian one.
“I know that the beef curry is a very important element in Kerala’s diet but there is no doubt in my mind that the carbon footprint of a non-vegetarian diet is greater than the carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet”, said Jairam who was participating in a discussion on the ecosystem of Western Ghats at the Krithi International book fair, organised by a state government-controlled society here.
“I have always held this view that if you want to do something on global warming, become a vegetarian,” Ramesh said. He, however, clarified that the choices about the food are a lifestyle issue.
Highlighting the leadership role played by women in leading environment movements in the country”, the senior Congress leader said: I think the environment is a feminist movement in India. If young women take an aggressive role in environmental issues… I am actually a great optimist,” Jairam Ramesh added.
Globally, beef is considered to be responsible for 41 per cent of livestock greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock accounts for 14.5 per cent of total global emission. In fact, according to one expert, eating less red meat, particularly beef, would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars.
The production of beef requires 28 times more land than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in 5 times more climate-warming emissions. As compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is far more extreme. It requires 160 times more land and produces 11 times more greenhouse gases.