Articles, Blog

What if Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef?


Eco-anxiety is a condition that people
are reporting and it refers to the dread and helplessness that come with watching the impacts of climate change TV: “Water is overtaking streets, flooding homes and buildings…” Hurricanes are getting stronger as the oceans warm and we’ve abandoned the Paris climate agreement Trump: “The Paris Accord is very unfair.” It’s easy to feel helpless. So what can an individual person do? What you can do is downsize your car, put solar panels on everything, definitely stop
showering… get one guitar keep it on your back. But a lot of people don’t want to
make that lifestyle overhaul. Something I found that
researchers recently have been studying is the effect of what could really
happen if people ate beans instead of beef. So if instead of eating beef, people
ate beans. It turns out the effect could be actually huge. I know that’s
not immediately appetizing, but but stick with me for a moment. Obama: “I’m confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made cutting our emissions
in the range of 17% by 2020 and by more than 80% by 2050 in line with
final legislation. We’re going to be nowhere near that. Obama was mainly talking about the energy and transportation sectors. He didn’t say
anything about people going vegan. Making conscious food choices is a place where a lot of ground can be made up by individuals. Researchers recently
calculated that we could get somewhere between 43 and 72% of the way to those 2020 goals just by making that one change. Beans for beef. Livestock is
responsible for a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of methane. Beef production accounts for around 37% of all human-induced methane released
into the air, and methane is 23 times as warming as carbon dioxide. Part of
the problem is the amount of cattle feed — often soybeans — that’s produced in order
to keep up with demands. That means deforestation. According to the UN, almost 1/3 of land on earth is used to raise livestock or
to feed it. That’s the main reason for cutting down
the Amazon in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of red meat. To use land to feed
cows. But feeding cows beans to create meat for humans is a very inefficient
way to create edible protein. So what if people ate beans? That means you
could still eat chicken and pork and fish and all the other things that
people should maybe probably be eating less of. Now the researchers who studied
the beans for beef scenario tried to figure out how that would affect U.S. crop land, and it turns out that could free up up to 42% of it. That’s 1.6 times the surface area of California. And that would be good for
woody plants, for biodiversity. It would reduce water needs and it would cut a
lot of methane out of the environment. Obviously, I know this isn’t going to
happen. Everyone is not going to give up beef for beans. But at a time when
government policy is emphatically not focused on reducing emissions and
addressing climate change, it’s worth being reminded that individual choices
matter. There are things that you can do. This is YOU ARE HERE, an Atlantic
series about the science of everyday life. Let us know what topics you want to
explore. My name is James Hamblin. Thank you for watching.

100
Comments
  • I think that this transition from one person will not outweigh the rest of the worlds eating standards.. that is, if they even have the luxury to make such a drastic life overhaul. Correct me if i’m wrong, but the individuals choice in healthier eating cannot supersede the reality that the rest of the world would need to chime in as well for a drastic impact. I might boldly add that it’s a feel good measure for the individual..

  • He had me until he said we can still eat fish and other animal products. Commercial fishing is destroying the oceans. I cut out ALL animal products for environmental, ethical, and health reasons.

  • While I would never switch beef to beans, because beans are gross, I switched all meat in my diet to plant based options. And it rocks! I feel better and have more energy and pay less for groceries! If you liked this 3 minute video, check out Cowspiracy on Netflix.

  • Thanks for this video, Atlantic. Yeah, most people who consider themselves eco-friendly are unaware that ceasing meat consumption far outweighs any other lifestyle changes they might make (e.g. recycling, driving hybrid electric cars…) in terms of how much negative environmental impact doing so reduces. Anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist yet continues eating a typical amount of meat is actually being hypocritical.

  • Cows have a specially developed organ called a rumen which is what allows them to turn grass into protein. You don't want to eat nasty beef that has been force fed corn or soybeans just because it's cheap and abundant. Those cows require more antibiotics because they easily get sick from their poor diet and close living quarters with so many other cows. Even if you only substitute beans until you can get your hands on some quality beef at the farmer's market, limiting the amount of beef you consume can have a huge impact even if you don't ban it outright from your diet. Stop buying cheap beef and save your money so you can buy locally raised meats.

  • this video is useless as obama's promise to reduce carbon footprint – gives people false hope that their personal choices can make a difference. No they won't.

  • My question is what is the plan for animals that are used for food if there is no market for beef or other meat sources?

  • I've been considering going vegetarian/vegan for the longest time and it seems like I've settled on pescetarianism. At least I'm in the transition period.

  • I'm vegan, but the level of hamstering in this video is 6000. Tell me about your background in oceanography and climate science that allows you to make definitive statements about ocean temperature and hurricane "strength". Good luck with that Eco anxiety

  • He also neglected the truth that if America just stopped eating meat the mass death of millions of herds of animals that nobody could afford to take care of. Not to mention the plauge of decaying flesh that would blow across the country causing unknown sickness

  • "What ifs" are fun but unrealistic. Beef is an American staple and asking us to cut it out of our diet is culturally insensitive.

  • How does beef raised on grazing non-arable rangeland fit into this scenario ?
    While it is undeniably criminal to slash tropical rainforest to grow chemically-saturated Franken-Soy to then be processed into antibiotic-saturated pustular flesh by bovine gasbags…
    There are rangelands which are suitable for grazing but not cropping…

  • Woha dude…. seriously??? A big part of the picture is eating less red meat from feedlots (ie eating free range meat) + eating less red meat + eating less meat + sourcing more of our protein requirement from plant sources rather than animal sources. But wtf about Australia and Africa ? Due to no fault of their own, they are in an incredible transition period. HUGE amounts of land which, at the moment, can grow crops, in future will only be able to support livestock production. Why should developed countries, and their exorbitant and unsustainable consumption patterns, mean that developing countries have to suffer even more? So not fair!!! If there is a god, I am sure she would be totally be down with the whole scenario of caring for our sisters and brothers???

  • Next episode: Clothes
    Next episode after the next episode: Overconsumption, little used products.

  • Ffs, I really wish ppl would get it through their skulls; there is no changing, turning back or reversing climate change. You're polishing brass on the Titanic

  • having all americans eat beans instead of beef would make it somewhere betwwen 43-72% of the 2020 promised goal? such a large change for a rather tragic result. how about for example returning to eating more parts of the cow as in WW2 (food rationing act) instead of making such a large change that would bring digestive problems along with it. also he was saying 42% of crop land being freed up in this hypothetical scenario. now what? more woody plants and biodiversity? the fuck is it for?

  • I do NOT understand WHY people eat beaf and pork.
    Chickens and other poultry rises faster, and in great number.
    (and tastes A LOT better!)

    P.S. Solar panels actually INCRESES CO2 emission! It was PROVEN in Germany!!!

  • People won’t agree with this model because, at this point, people became more Carnivora then animals! Literally, burgers and obviously meat is top majority in food industry for people.

    Not vegan, because I do enjoy beef at times.

  • you hear about animal products a lot but what about stuff like sugar and rice?you need to be cearful with them as well because they have massive enviornmental impacts,not to mention other issues associated with crops that may be plant based but still have a negative impact like cough…slavery…cough.Just because the sugar plantations in an other country now doesn't mean there arent those sugar/rice plantation slaves any more.As a general rule if its a staple look it up,if its advertised as an enviornmentally friendly alternative its probably just as bad and lieing to get profit,investagate.Why beans?Duck weeds around 50% protien.Mabie Im wired for thinking thats wierd.

    https://www.thoughtco.com/effect-of-sugar-on-the-environment-1204100
    http://file.scirp.org/pdf/AJPS_2015082514031710.pdf

  • why was it a bad thing to pull out of the Paris agreement. the only contrys to pledge to do something now was the usa and canada. everyone else just seid when they would reach peak emissions. aka they will keep increasing emissions so whats the point of the stupid thing.

  • wait,, but shouldn’t we actually eat beef?? because i learned in school that cows give off lots of methane for greenhouse gas,, and that’s mostly because their is wAAAAy too much cows!! so we kill, and eat them,, right??

  • I'm all for not eating beef for a number of reasons, but you neglected to mention that if we eat the beans instead of the cows eating the beans (soy), then we would be the ones emitting the methane. It would still be a net reduction, but not nearly as much as you might imagine.

  • " The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife."

    The study, published in the journal Science, created a huge dataset based on almost 40,000 farms in 119 countries and covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all that is eaten. It assessed the full impact of these foods, from farm to fork, on land use, climate change emissions, freshwater use and water pollution (eutrophication) and air pollution (acidification).

    “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford, UK, who led the research. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car,” he said, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

  • Beans are great for us. But being vegan and rejecting all forms of animal use is better for our spirit and for other vulnerable animals. https://nutritionfacts.org/2014/03/11/why-you-should-eat-more-beans/

  • but if humans eat beans, they they will produce methane gas instead of the cows and if we stop eating beef then the cows wont be slaughtered wich also causes more methane gas production since dead cows dont fart

  • And no difference happens because people still want milk and cheese instead it will be like the goat industry but far worse where millions of male goats are killed at birth and thrown away.

  • I like it, it makes a lot of sense to me.  Actually, I already do eat a lot of beans & rice, chicken only, I do not eat beef at all but not for those reasons, I do not eat beef cuz I do not like killing of the cow.

  • I think this is a great idea. Everybody else, eat beans. That way I can have as much beef as I want. This is basically always the same routine; get all the stupid people to make the sacrifices so the smart ones can continue to do what they like to do. We see this with water conservation; the general public gets put on water rations. Corporations continue to water the lawns of their office buildings, golf courses vigorously continue to water their huge expanses of real estate, executives continue to fill their spas & pools, etc.. So….EVERYBODY EAT BEANS!

  • Let's replace beef…… with bEaNS!! That'll solve the environmental issues!
    Yeah how about people learn to consume LESS and eat other AlTErNaTIvEs?!!
    I really think humanity should learn to live simpler and try fasting some days for a change. Lots of health benefits included with nOT EaTInG!!

  • I used to be anti vegan and thought of them as nutjobs but the more i think about it the more i grow to respect them and their decisions although i am religious and my faith permits beef and I probably won’t stop eating It but definitely will eat it a lot less now.

  • Why do you hate cattle? 😉 Even if you reduce beef to once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month; it would make a difference. Knowing the source of your beef is also important. Grass raised, free range beef (up here in Canada that is only for some months, but they can be given locally grown hay and corn etc) is healthier for you and the planet. This greatly raises the price; but with reduced consumption should still be manageable for most. An excellent video that will, in all likelihood, fall upon deaf ears.

  • I’m watching this video whilst sitting on a glacier just above the arctic circle in my research SUV, with the engine idling high because it’s burning oil and might stall. I am enjoying a delicious beef au jus sandwich while sipping coffee from my styrofoam cup. All the windows are open because it smells in here from the giant Cuban cigar I recently smoked, and then I sprayed far too much air freshener from an old aersol can. My truck leaks oil on the virgin snow but I like the patterns it makes. I’m going to get it fixed while in Central America on a logging investment inspection.

    JUS KIDDING.

    I don’t really like cigars.

  • What would happen if we stopped eating beef and substituted beef with beans? The huge volume of greenhouse gasses in the form of human flatulence. Probably raise the temperature of the planet and whoa the stink factor. Can you say human methane producing units?

  • Yes, good advice and video. I've moved from beef for more than 2 decades now and from any form of meat for ~15 yrs or so. I feel though that the video length could be used better:
    1. There are several sources of methane. Certainly planting soybean (itself a source of protein, which would encourage people to leave beef) is not the main one. By the way, I also felt singling out Brazil was kinda cheap. The largest soybean producer in the world: US.
    2. Brazil is certainly a large beef producer (15% of the world production). Largest producer? US, with 20%, with Europe in third, with 13%. So, bashing Brazil may be popular but not ethical and is actually incorrect. The much smaller % of people in Brazil cutting down forests include of course big $$ (and a few foreign companies). We're doing our best to curb that, though in the case of beef. most of it is exported and THAT is the main motivation. (Another reason for cutting down forests illegally: wood market in the Northern Hem. But that's another problem.)
    3. True, Europe and US are not cutting down their forests as much… oh, wait, they've done that in the past already. Oh well.
    4. A major problem w/ beef is the amount of water needed (estimates vary, but they seem to converge around ~20,000 gallons) for one (!) lb of beef. That's not made clear in the video.
    5. In Brazil, and I suspect in other parts, there's a move towards plant-based protein. Whole rice + beans provide all the amino acids you need to form protein in your body, for example. That would be another selling point to move away from beef the video doesn't mention.
    Good video though. Thanks.

  • Great Video, you are the New Generation, once the Older, People are Gone, the Next Generation have to Go, Vegan in Order to Save Our Planet, but, we all have to do Our Part in Order to Save Our Planet the only One we have Now! We need to Keep the Sweet Animals and their Fluids, Off Our Plate and Off Our Menu, in order to Help all 3: the Sweet Animals, Us, the People and Save Our Planet a true, Win,Win! God shares Words with Us his Children and we didn't Listen to God and his Words, have a Wonderful, Sunday, sincerely, Diana Lipski 💕, I have a List of them 🙏

  • soybeans are primarily fed to pigs not cattle and are one of the most erosive crops we grow because they have a very shallow root system. it wouldn't necessarily correct any problems.

  • This is bullshit (yes it is actually cattle turd) because beans (especially protein-rich soybeans) are actually feed by petrochemical fertilizers and mineral phosphates which also generates HUGE amount of greenhouse gases and much more toxic than cattle manure. in other hands cattle (and other herbivore livestock) manure are essential alternatives for chemical fertilizers and mandatory for organic farming.

    Thus replacing beef to beans is not practical, non-sustainable and not eco-friendly. if you want to save the earth rather buy organic, grass-fed beef and raise crops for yourself is much better than this bullshit.

  • This is way off the mark and ignores basic ecology. The conventional way we farm annual grains and vegetables is highly destructive to the planet and our health. . We don't need grains or legumes in our diet, they are not nutrient dense and prevent absorption of some nutrients. Monoculture farming is completely unnatural to the environment! Annual monocultures require soil to be tilled and this releases carbon into the air and kills the soil. Monocultures require inputs…fertilizers and a cocktail of chemicals that destroy insects, pollinators, and all the life in the soil. They also need factory processing and long supply fossil fuel supply chains. They also require the government to subsidize the system which is also not sustainable. Herbivores need to be on the land as nature intended. They co-evolved with plants. The current way we keep the majority of animals is destructive to the earth, cruel and immoral. We need to give them good lives outside on pasture, doing what nature intended, with care and respect. We need to switch all those corporate, annual farms into poly-culture farms. Herbivores have a major role to play and the restoration of the land.. Herbivores (holistically managed to mimic bison herds as described by Alan Savory)whether bison or cows need to get back on perennial grassland to restore ecosystems, reverse climate change, support pollinators, build soil, prevent run-off, benefit our water supply, and provide humans with a low- input, nutrient-dense food system. It's a ridicules goal to want everyone off of meat? and then people should eat destructive processed grain and annuals? That is not ever going to happen and it also would be bad for the planet and our health. Learn about permaculture, silvopasture systems, and what it takes to get carbon into the ground and build fertile soil. The best actions is support these low-input systems everywhere, buy pasture raised meats, have backyard gardens, store food, and buy LOCAL. Carbon cowboys. https://vimeo.com/80518559

  • If everyone would eat the same kcal from beans instead of meat almost all of us would become sick. This is not healthier. Beans simply don't have the same nutritional value. There are no RCT's that proof vegan or vegetarian diets are actually better than other diets, only correlational studies. Check this analysis of a current debate about the topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EQg6c5D3r8

  • I don’t even eat beef. I haven’t even beef in 2 years. Thinking about eating it grosses me out 🤢

    The only type of meat I eat is chicken

  • Fake news. The real Methane emmisions come from petroleum installations and tanker- ship loading installations. Also any rotting organic matter gives out methane gas.

  • Dude you really need to get some education you have almost no grasp on reality. First of all beef/cows are one of our main sources of food/protein not just beef but in all the dairy products. You know like …milk, cheese, yoghurt – Milk powder/ baby formula – All the products from lasagne,sausages/stew/burgers to pies. What your suggesting is swapping beans for beef which is so ridiculous. Growing plants is not easy and it involves crop rotation, feeding the soil and protection from pest diseases and weeds. Do you know that in Ireland they pretty much lived on a vegan diet of potatoes and guess what in 1847 the potatoe blight happened and wiped out all the potatoes and as a consequence most starved, some were lucky enough to get to out and go to America where there was more diversity in food production. As for climate change do you know there is basically no methane in the atmosphere it is measured in parts per billion. The major Greeenhouse gas in water vapour acounting 90 +%. You have fed not beans but BS and you have swallowed it whole without questioning. Time to wake up, you have become an environmental terrorist without knowing it your propaganda video will lead to deaths in the millions when food supplies run short or fail. Remember we have had 100's of thousands of years of evolution, we have evolved to be omnivores for a reason. The limited plant food available for us to digest means we also have to consume meat. If you want to save the planet improve what we have reduce chemical pesticides and bad farming practices. The main plant crop that is producing massive health problems is sugar cane, sugar beet and sugar derived from corn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *