Few animals get as bad a rap these days as cattle do. They are blamed for soil erosion, water depletion, overgrazed rangelands, greenhouse gas emissions, and, when eaten, human heart disease. Often missing from such indictments of the mooing, tail-wagging, and, yes, methane-emitting bovine, however, is our role. How we choose to manage cattle determines their environmental impact, not the animals themselves.
Is the way we farm animals and turn them into food part of the problem or the solution to the myriad of social and environmental issues we face today?
“Eat less red meat” is the most frequent response I hear at conferences when a distraught member of the audience asks a presenter “What’s the one thing I can do for the planet?” What the presenter should have said is “Eat less feedlot meat.” A lot less, in fact.