Could Eating Organ Meats Reduce Climate Change?

Time to put liver and kidneys back on your dinner table.
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Eating Organ Meats Could Reduce Climate Change

Eating organ meats could reduce livestock-related greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 14 percent, according to a new study. While the analysis focuses on Germany, the largest producer of meat in the European Union, it is “likely” that the results would be similar for other countries, a study author tells Carbon Brief.

“Diet structure change, either by reducing meat consumption or substituting meat with offal, showed the highest emissions reduction potential,” study author Professor Gang Liu, a researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, tells the publication.

About 60 percent of the mass of slaughtered animals is wasted in processing, according to The Atlantic. Consuming offal cuts like liver or kidney would cut down on this waste and therefore reduce the number of animals that would need to be raised and slaughtered to meet consumer demands for meat.

The new study, which was published in Environmental Science and Technology, notes that other ways of cutting down on the environmental impact of the livestock industry include reducing beef consumption in favor of less emission-heavy meats like poultry. 

The study nevertheless confirms that the most effective way of reducing livestock emissions would be to reduce meat consumption or stop consuming meat altogether. According to the researchers, halving total meat consumption could reduce Germany’s emissions by 32 percent.

This is not the first research to show the beneficial environmental effects of a plant-based diet. One research review from the University of Oxford found that consuming a vegan diet was “probably the single best way” for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint. The researchers noted that the meat and dairy industries currently account for 83 percent of global farmland and produce 60 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

The livestock industry is responsible for between 14.5 and 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

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