19 August 2014 Last updated at 22:51 ET
By Dr Michael Mosley BBC Horizon
The problem lies with what cows eat, says Dr Mosley
- How safe is eating meat?
- Changing world of meat eaters
- Creating new life – and other ways to feed the world
Every year we raise and eat 65 billion animals, that’s nine animals for every person on the globe, and it’s having a major impact on our planet. So what meat should we eat if we want to be eco-friendly carnivores? Is it better to buy beef or chicken, free range or factory farmed? As Dr Michael Mosley discovers for BBC Horizon, the answers are far from obvious.
I like eating meat but I know that my food preferences, and those of a few billion fellow carnivores, comes at a cost.
Nearly a third of the Earth’s ice-free land surface is already devoted to raising the animals we either eat or milk.
Roughly 30% of the crops we grow are fed to animals. The latest UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reports suggest livestock are responsible for 14.5% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions – the same amount produced by all the world’s cars, planes, boats and trains.
If that wasn’t scary enough, meat consumption is predicted to double in the next 40 years as people globally get wealthier. So how will the world cope?
In search of answers I went to the US, one of the world’s largest consumers of meat, and travelled to the wide-open prairies of the Flint Hills in Kansas.
Global Climate Change