The beef with the beef industry


Ali Barritt, Cynic Correspondent

The line at the grill is long at any dining hall on campus; there’s ample demand for beef.

In fact, the US produced 99.8 billion pounds of meat in 2017, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Sophomore Julian Kafka eats meat because it tastes good and it’s widely available, he said.

Would people still line up for burgers if they knew that the grain fed to cattle could feed 115 percent of the world’s population, according to a May 2017 One Green Planet article.

Beef also has a remarkable impact on the environment.

The U.N. Environment Programme states that most studies attribute 10-25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions to the beef industry along with deforestation.

First-year Madeline Reilly said the beef industry’s impact is something she “saw and couldn’t unsee.”

To her, a hamburger “just isn’t worth being an active participant in the destruction of our planet and the torture of millions of animals,” she said.

If the environmental impact isn’t reason enough to reconsider eating beef, the impact on people’s wallets might be.

The 2012 Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition found that a vegetarian diet is cheaper than a meat based diet.

First-year Charlotte Brennan dislikes the beef industry, but said that “the dining halls make it almost impossible to not eat it.”

However, each dining space on campus provides vegetarian options according to the UVM Dining Services website.

First-year Shania Benjamin grew up eating beef and now “cannot stay away from it,” she said.  In moderation, she sees “absolutely nothing wrong with eating beef,” she said.

The UVM campus dietitian, Nicole Rohrig said that beef can be part of a healthy diet.

“There’s a spectrum of proteins that are going to be better for your body and also for the environment,” Rohrig said.

She suggests a Mediterranean diet, which limits red meats to once a week and focuses on fish, legumes and grains for proteins, she said.

“The goal is not to completely cut everything out,” Rohrig said. “But to instead make small shifts to decrease your consumption of beef, and to incorporate a wider variety of proteins.”

If the environmental or human impact of beef ruins your appetite, set down the burger. Better yet, don’t get in line for one.