Could your diet save the planet?

It looks delicious, but is a diet free of red meat better for the planet? stu spivack

By now most of us have read articles suggesting we “eat less red meat and save the planet”.

Some may also have heard statements by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, that people should have “one meat-free day a week if they want to make a personal and effective sacrifice that would help tackle climate change”.

As with most issues associated with climate change, concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are muddied by many strong opinions and few facts. Meanwhile, the average person is just trying to work out the truth and determine what they can realistically do to make a meaningful contribution.

How much does livestock contribute?

In sorting the myths from the truth, it’s worth considering what the livestock sector in Australia contributes to climate change and comparing this with other sectors.

According to the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the livestock industries contribute around 11% of national greenhouse gas emissions, mainly as methane and, to a lesser extent, nitrous oxide.

How do emissions from agriculture compare to those from other industries? Odd Andersen/AFP