Is Consuming Seafood More Climate-Friendly Option Than Meat?
Meat production requires large amounts of land, water, feed, energy, and fertilizer. But there is so much more to the effects of meat production on our planet.
Seafood, however, is a better alternative because it takes fewer resources to raise. It also produces less waste. But it’s not like it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gas either.
Did you know that animal-based foods account for 57 per cent of the total global food production generated greenhouse gas emissions?
Greenhouse gas emissions strengthen the greenhouse effect, causing climate change.
The greenhouse effect refers to how certain gases trap heat inside our atmosphere.
These gases trap heat inside our atmosphere. This causes temperatures to rise, leading to global warming and ultimately climate change.
The world is changing at an alarming rate due to climate change.
The climate crisis is real, and we already see its effects.
Climate change threatens our health, economy, environment, and security. We must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help protect our planet.
There are many ways we can help mitigate the effects of climate change, and reducing our carbon footprint is one.
Animal-based foods account for more than half of the total global food production generated greenhouse gas emissions. So, it’s a good idea to start from there.
Factors That Affect The Greenhouse Gas Emission Of Food
Basically, everything from production to post-farm processes such as processing and distribution impacts the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our food.
If we look at the emissions that go into the distribution of food products – processing, transportation, packaging, and selling, the difference between seafood and meat isn’t that vast.
But, when we take the emissions from growing and processing different animal feed for livestock farming, that changes the number drastically. Animal food production greatly affects the overall emission of animal-based food products.
But the most influential factors that impact our climate adversely are the farming process and land use change.
Which Meat Is The Worst For The Environment?
While the whole livestock industry is bad for the environment, livestock beef production and lamb are at the top.
Beef has an average of 99.48 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent or greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of edible food. Lamb/ mutton has an average of 39.72 kilos of greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of food.
How Meat Affects Our Environment
Livestock production requires large amounts of land, water, energy, and chemicals. And because land-based food production operations are concentrated in certain areas, they contribute to pollution. That includes air, water, and noise pollution.
Greenhouse Gas Emission
Approximately 14.5% of Global Greenhouse Gas emissions come from the meat and dairy industry. The belches and waste of livestock create significant methane emissions. Transportation and other processes also use a lot of fossil fuels.
Deforestation and Forest Fires
Some people deliberately set forest fires to clear lands to use for raising livestock and animal food products such as soya.
Because of the previously mentioned effect of meat production on rainforests, many wildlife loses their home and food source. This damage can be irreversible should some species go extinct.
Grazing lands are required for raising livestock. This can overuse the land and cause it to become barren.
Aside from the enormous amount of water used in meat production, the meat industry is also the largest cause of water pollution. They are responsible for one-third of freshwater withdrawals. They also discharge tons of dangerous pollutants into waterways.
How Seafood Affects Our Environment
The effects of seafood on the environment are better when compared to meat which is the number one offender. But, it’s not perfect. The fish farming sector and fish products still have negative effects on our environment.
Ocean Supplies Depletion
Humans tend to demand more than we actually need. That can cause overconsumption and overfishing.
Harm To Marine Species
Overfishing and the fishing method used in capturing the seafood can cause harm to many species, especially to those that are already vulnerable and facing extinction. Commercial fishing operations can affect even the species that aren’t their target.
Aside from harming marine species from fishing methods, the waste of the fishing industry can also harm many species. Many species, such as whales and sea turtles, are victims of the pollution left by fishers. They can suffer direct harm through discarded fishing nets. They are also at risk of indirect effects through damage to their homes and food sources.
Greenhouse Gas Emission
The greenhouse gas emission of seafood is definitely significantly lower than meat products such as beef and lamb. But, there’s more to that.
The impact of seafood depends on many things such as the seafood species, the fuel to power fishing, fishing methods, and more.
The greenhouse gas emission of seafood production depends on the type of seafood. The environmental impact also differs between wild seafood and farm-raised seafood.
For example, a wild salmon emits 6.88 kg of greenhouse gas per kilogram of salmon, while a farmed salmon emits only 5.1 kg per kilo of edible weight product.
On the other hand, farmed prawns emit 26.87 kg of carbon dioxide emissions (greenhouse gas emissions) per kilo. That is higher than the 9.87 kg of poultry meat.
Sustainable Seafood Options
Tilapia can grow in different conditions and thrive in low-input systems. They also eat algae or other plant-based diets, which are more sustainable than animal protein-based fish feed.
Anchovies are delicious little fish found in saltwater oceans. They are wild-caught fish.
These schooling fish have a quick growth cycle. And they repopulate quickly because they’re lower on the food chain. The fishing method used to catch them, the purse sein net method, also uses the least boat fuel per catch compared to other seafood.
Farmed Clams, Mussels, Oysters, And Scallops
They don’t need to be fed. As mentioned above, animal feed or feeds used to raise animals adds to the negative impact of the products. They also don’t create waste. So, they don’t pollute the environment like the other seafood or meat options.
Farmed Arctic Char
They are raised through a very clean method of fish farming and take well to being farmed.
The world’s population is growing rapidly, and we’re consuming more and more food daily.
This means there’s going to be more waste, more pollution, and more greenhouse gas emissions.
So what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment? One option is to eat less meat and animal products.
Opting for plant-based proteins is ideal but if you can’t give up meat, opt for the next most sustainable option, which is seafood.