Activism environmental impact meat grains

Published on March 29th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Bill Gates Advocating For Big Cut In Meat Consumption

environmental impact meat CO2After making his fortune on computer software, Bill Gates has shifted his focus to social and environmental problems (of course, environmental problems are also social problems). While I don’t agree with everything he promotes or thinks, he definitely seems genuine and is putting a lot into these matter. One of his recent topics of focus is reducing meat consumption.

For a Future of Food interactive feature on, a statement from Michael Pollan to Gates sums up critical reasons to cut meat out of one’s diet:

“Three principal motivators: health, because we know high consumption of red meat correlates with higher chances of certain cancers; and the environment, because we know that conventional meat production is one of the biggest drivers of climate change, as well as water and pollution; and ethics, since the animal factories that produce most of our meat and milk are brutal places where animals suffer needlessly.”

I think the environmental reason is Gates’ main concern, and I think he has even cited the study that found that approximately 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock sector. However, Gates has a strong focus on health issues, so that may also be a big part of the impetus for his involvement in this arena. (Of course, it’s hard to imagine anyone not caring about the factory farming and animal suffering component… much of which is simply for nothing.)

Here are three of Gates’ images trying to illuminate the environmental impact of meat:

environmental impact meat grains

environmental impact meat CO2

environmental impact meat land

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Little Gramma

    Might want to get yourself out of the city and take a road trip to see those factory farms. Do they really exist? Finishing feedlots exist, but those animals come from small farms. The road trip will also show you there is plenty of room to grow feed for man and animal….without causing harm to the planet or atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is as necessary as Oxygen. Read your science book, biology book.

    How about we express our gratitude that this planet of which we are a tiny part of the living organism we call earth is so readily abundant in all things to support our lives and comforts.

    We humans have so little impact, that it’s laughable that anyone gets their panties in a twist about saving the planet. It doesn’t need our help, or even our cooperation. Farming/animal husbandry is part of the normal order of things that the planet easily supports.

    No farmer/rancher is going to do anything to damage his livelihood, despite what the carbon foot money grubbers will try to sell to a naive public. Spend a week on a farm/ranch and see for yourself.

  • Little Gramma

    Add some gelatin to that beef diet and you’ll have your amino acids in balance…then no problems. It’s not the beef, it’s not eating the other parts of the animal. So make that gravy…and eat the fat. Eat the butter and drink the milk. Enjoy ice cream. I buy gelatin in bulk and make a breakfast of it in my coffee, butter, coconut oil, cream and sugar.

    • Zachary Shahan

      that’s a recipe for disease and early death. no joke — it’s been studied extensively, and the findings have been clear as day. but your life, your choice. (as for the lives of the animals, i guess they don’t have any choice…)

  • Scott Cooney

    It’s pretty clear that if we shifted away from factory farmed meat, a lot of our societal problems would simply go away on their own. About 75% of all subsidies in the Farm Bill go to support factory farms, so get on the horn with your congressman and tell them that that’s unacceptable. Then shift your own dollars away.

  • esa

    whats the protein density of chicken, beef and tofu?

  • Bob Higgins

    I’ve been steadily reducing the amount of meat in my diet for years because the prices are exorbitant and the product disappointing. The health and environmental horror stories of meat and grain production and the knowledge of what’s actually contained in every mouthful does little for my appetite. Ground beef went out the window when I first encountered the reality of pink slime and ammonia, chicken tastes like cardboard and I haven’t eaten five pounds of fish since BP’s disaster in the Gulf.

    While I don’t dispute the truth of the graphics, please pardon my disdain for taking environmental advice from someone who lives in a 66,000 square foot “home” and likely has the personal carbon footprint of a small town.

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