Skip Nav
Win Halloween With These 69 Movie-Inspired Couples Costume Ideas
The 29 Steamiest Movie Sex Scenes of All Time
My Husband and I Spoke Kindly to Each Other For 7 Days, and Here's What Happened

Check This: Meat Is the New Oil

Put down that burger. Think you can care about the planet and have that Whopper too? Not according to this article in the New York Times. Meat is the new oil, folks, and our tanks just hit empty. The environmental impact of meat cannot be overstated.

The Times says this about meat manufacture:

"These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests."

That'll put a damper on that sparkling brook and pristine garden of eden you were fixing to plant.

Still clutching that bratwurst? To find out how meat and oil are twins,


  • Meat is subsidized by the government.
  • Meat's demand increases as nations become wealthier
  • The toll of meat production is becoming increasingly visible, prompting emphasis on rationing.

Ever the overachievers, Americans consume twice the global average of meat per day—about 8 ounces. Gulp. I haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, not being an omnivore and all, but now I want to. Can we afford to keep up our barbecuing lifestyle? Would you cut back on beef to save the planet? Is the steak the new SUV?


Join The Conversation
designergirl designergirl 9 years
The meat industry is awful. I love meat, and I won't give it up. I do buy all my meat from local farms I have visited before. If everyone did this, factory farming would be quickly eradicated. It's not that much more expensive to buy organic foods (if you buy in season). Besides, spending more and eating less is the answer. People are just lazy or too ill informed, I guess.
xhansel xhansel 9 years
Yes I agree the meat industry isn't good for the planet, but the solution can't be just for people to eat less meat. That's not only nearly impossible to sell to people, but it's also not nearly as effective a solution as improving the meat making process so it's not bad for the environment. The article you mention is not about the meat industry being bad for the planet, it's about the inhumane and unacceptable treatment of livestock. I totally agree that animals are not treated humanely and that should also change, both for their sake and for ours.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Which hopefully you'll agree, it isn't. There's a lovely article from cnn.
xhansel xhansel 9 years
@LilRuck: You don't "release cow waste into the air." You put all the waste into a very large container, which holds it for a time. The gas that container collects is used as a fuel to create electricity, gas that the waste releases regardless of where it's stored. You're just harnessing the materials you already have to make energy. This process in in use all over the world at all kinds of farms with livestock. And when the waste is done its time in the container, it comes out dry and makes a much better fertilizer than the waste that went in, another byproduct the farm can either use or sell. And I'm not saying there's no problem with the meat industry, I'm saying the problem is ENTIRELY the meat industry. But the focus of those trying to fix this problem shouldn't be on reducing the amount of meat consumed, it should be on making vast improvements to the environmentally-destructive process currently being used to produce the meat. As far as the gas in the trucks, I wasn't talking about that, but that's going back to the auto-makers, who should improve fuel efficiency to make the transporting of all our goods a less destructive process. Vegetables also have to be transported by the same large trucks, as does almost everything else we buy. I am also an animal lover and I have big problems with the way the cows and other animals are treated, but the issue here is if the meat industry is good for the planet.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
xhansel that would only make the problem worse. Releasing cow waste into the air is a huge problem considering the absolute crap that they feed them. They'll feed them anything just to get them to stay alive until slaughter time. Please visit and then come back here and tell me that there is no problem with the meat industry other than the gases from the truck to transport them.
xhansel xhansel 9 years
Isn't the problem here not the consumer but the methods used by the meat industry that are causing the problems? Wouldn't a better solution than giving up meat be to create new methods of consumer meat production and distribution that makes meat possible without the negative environmental impact? Did you know that it is now possible to use machines to turn cow waste into vast amounts of energy? Install such a system at cattle farms and reduce a lot of the farm's negative strain on the environment. Then repeat this process of green innovation in all other aspects of the meat industry. It's a little absurd to ask people to stop eating meat entirely instead of asking an industry that could probably clean up its act to change for the better. We're not asking people to stop driving altogether or seriously ration their driving, we're asking auto-makers to reduce the emissions of their cars. We're not asking people to stop using electricity, we're asking energy companies to generate that energy more cleanly. This meat argument sounds like a way to push a vegetarian lifestyle and tie it to the environment, and I think the link is tenuous.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
I just remembered Sting had a thing about saving the rain forests, that's where I think most would recall the info. Anyway, I wonder if the article mentions if the destruction continues or if they cleared enough land and it stopped? What happens when they leach the land of all its nutrients? Clear more, making a cycle until there are no more rain forests? Crazy.
chakra_healer chakra_healer 9 years
Great post! Although, I would like to thinkn most would remember the destruction of rain forests were partially due to creating arable land. Land for grazing and crop production will be an issue in the next generation. Americans can cut back if they like, however, there simply will not be enough food produced to feed the population. No I do not mean in a Malthusian manner. There are fewer farmers, less land to farm due to sub/ex-urbs, and more people than ever to feed. Somewhere there will be a breaking point whether most cut back or not. I think we can already see the impact in the reduction of sea life. it isn't only pollution or overfishing (like salmon or tuna), there are issues of increased need and the resource not renewing fast enough to meet the demand.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
"I think that most people in America probably get their beef intake from the fast food chains." "That's a joke, right?" I see a lot more people in the drive thru at McDonalds than in the meat department at my grocery store. Places like McDonalds get the cheapest "meat" they can find. They don't care about feeding the cattle proper food, just anything that will keep them alive until slaughter time. They give them hormones to make them grow faster, and pack as many into their little factory farms as they can fit.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
Flesh eating zombie. :rotfl:
AKirstin AKirstin 9 years
"I think that most people in America probably get their beef intake from the fast food chains." That's a joke, right?
ashopaholic ashopaholic 9 years
well i knew this before the nytimes article...i have cut most meat out of my diet besides chicken and some seafood, though im trying to phase that out as well or at least eat meat that is from more sustainable methods of farming.
machineangel machineangel 9 years
I'm vegan precisely for these reasons. It's really refreshing to see something as mainstream as The New York Times address the issue. But, if the comments here are any indication, people don't really care that their personal comfort is costing us the planet. Helping the environment doesn't mean giving up meat and animal products - obviously animal farming went on for a long time without destroying the world. It just means giving your money to sustainable farming, not the big ole' corporate farms that are doing all the damage.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
As a flesh eating zombie, I feel it's important to increase my intake of meat ... and brain matter although I do sometimes worry about the effects on the environment.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Akirstin, i live with my 4 best freinds and we have this thing where anyone buys the groceries and we all eat, ther is no such thing as this is mine don't touch. so one day I went to buy groceries and i only got 5 tomatoes got to the checkout and got charged $12 i totally reaked out especially whent hey said they were organic. more than $2 for one tomato man I don't even get paid $9/hour. it's easy to say buy organic or eat organic but many can't afford to, you have to make it commerically viable and easy to purchase too.
foxie foxie 9 years
And I second lilruck... should make a Super bowl commercial or something. Even just a regular commercial... it needs to be seen.
foxie foxie 9 years
This is what irks me about the environmentalist movement. They point angry fingers at anyone who drives an SUV, but say NOTHING at all about the much worse impact factory farming has on the environment. Maybe it's that they feel guilty and don't want to call attention to their own bad practices? I think so. Eat less meat, everyone! For your health, the planet, and for the suffering of animals. And go read "Dominion" by Matthew Scully, especially conservatives like myself and Christians.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Imagine what our grocery bill is.... there's five of us and we eat all Organic! Until the Whole Foods gets built (not soon enough) we have to go to the conventional produce section to get some variety in vegetables.
juju4 juju4 9 years
I LOVE beef, but I don't eat much of it as it is. When I do, I'd much prefer to get some organic Nebraska raised filet mignon from Whole Foods that a burger from McDonald's. I think that most people in America probably get their beef intake from the fast food chains.
AKirstin AKirstin 9 years
I agree, nyaradzom2001. The only reason I don't eat organic food is because I can't afford it. My family is made up of three people, which equals a substantial grocery bill every month. We already gave up our car and started taking the bus to save money. Organic is out of the question for us. :(
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Wow I can't believe they're calling attention to this! You can do more for global warming by cutting out meat than by recycling, driving a hybrid car, ALL of those things. Everyone should go to and check out the photo gallery. It isn't pleasant, but it's real pictures of the factory farms. I think anyone who eats meat has a responsibility to look and see what the conditions are really like. My husband still likes meat, but we found a farm on the Eastern Shore (we're 2 hours inland) that raises a small amount of organic livestock, so we order from them.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
I know we are supposed to eat organic food but that crap is expensive man, defeating the purpose.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
And encourage organic and sustainable livestock.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
I would cut down, but not give it up entirely.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
That picture makes me hungry. Guess it would be great if we all cut back!
List of Things to Dispose Of
Vegetarian Sandwich Fillings, Ideas and Recipes
What Should You Throw Away?
How to Remove Sweat Stains
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds