Beef Is the Most Environmentally Harmful Livestock, Study Says

October 20, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. diet /ˈdaɪ ɪt/ (n.) – a selection of food normally or habitually eaten by a person or an animal
Example: Asian diet consists mostly of grains rather than meat.

2. tenfold /ˈtɛnˈfoʊld/ (adv.) – by ten times as much
Example: The number of local farm markets went up tenfold, from 10 to 100.

3. livestock /ˈlaɪvˌstɒk/ (n.) – animals that are bred and nurtured in a farm for a certain asset or benefit
Example: Beef, chicken, and pork come from the flesh of livestock.

4. input /ˈɪnˌpʊt/ (n.) – the process of putting in or contributing to a system
Example: Food industries can have a positive input on the environment by reducing wastes from food production.

5. optimistic /ˌɒp təˈmɪs tɪk/ (adj.) – showing positive view; expecting a positive result
Example: The school is optimistic about adding more vegetables in the school menu.


Read the text below.
Beef is the most environmentally harmful animal-based food product in the United States, a study discovers.

The main objective of the research was to determine the environmental costs of each food manufacturing process in the American diet. The researchers conducted a study through a complex statistical research method. Their analysis focused on the five main sources of protein in the United States: beef, poultry, dairy, pork, and eggs.

For each source, the researchers examined the environmental input in each factor of the production process. This includes land and water usage, greenhouse gas emission levels, and import-export imbalances. After collecting data from each source, researchers compared all the calculations to determine which has the highest undesirable consumption on the environment.

Results of the study suggest that producing beef has the most detrimental impact on the planet’s ecological health. In fact, beef is environmentally destructive tenfold compared with other animal-based food products.

The study’s findings also show that cultivating and managing cattle requires more land and water than other livestock. Compared with other livestock, cattle farming emits five times more greenhouse gas emissions, the leading cause of global warming. 

Though the study’s findings are less than optimistic, it nevertheless promotes awareness and change for the better. Co-author Dr. Ron Milo [MAHY-loh] said that the study’s research method can be further developed and utilized to determine the environmental costs of other food, as well as the food of other countries.

Furthermore, the study’s information can help improve agricultural policies and food safety worldwide. Most importantly, it can also have a positive influence on how people choose their food.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What types of food would you consider to be the most environmentally harmful in your country? Please explain your answer.
·         What types of food would you consider to be the least environmentally harmful in your country? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         How would you personally help reduce the environmental cost of the food you eat?
·         What do you think would be a good food policy that can help lessen the environmental cost of food production in your country? Please explain your answer.

October 20, 2014