Food and Wine
Updated Mar 29, 2017 @ 11:32 am
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According to the New York Times, the Natural Resources Defense Council has reported a 19 percent drop in beef consumption from the years 2005 to 2014. That means most of us have cut out nearly one-fifth of the red meat from our diets over the course of a decade.

Though the study didn’t directly ask its participants why they’ve re-adjusted their eating habits, the article points to evidence from consumer research group Mintel. In January, they published findings that revealed price as the number one reason, followed by a rise in use of alternative protein sources and overall health concerns about saturated fat and cholesterol levels.

While this doesn’t allude to mindfulness about cattle’s environmental impact, the Natural Resources Defense Council is claiming this gradual decrease as a victory against greenhouse emissions. Using data from the Agriculture Department and estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, the group argues that the elimination of meat-based pollution over ten years is the equivalent to taking approximately 59 million cars off the road.

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“Whether we realize it or not, Americans have been fighting greenhouse gas emissions with their forks,” Sujatha Bergen, a policy specialist in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s food and agriculture program, explained.

Producing beef has long been argued to have one of the largest carbon footprints in the world. Aside from growing fertilizer-heavy feed and transforming rain forests into grazing pastures, cows produce methane, which the New York Times notes is “25 percent more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.”

This article originally appeared in Food & Wine.