Deforestation/Unsustainable logging Versus Eating meat. Which has a greater impact on the environment?

I am aware that eating meat is a large cause for deforestation, however I am wondering as to what scale we are re-planting trees in the world, and how that compares to the impact Vegetarianism has. I am having a discussion on a forum and this is something that would not require a quick and easy search (already tried many searches).

I don't want to be ignorant if not eating meat actually actually does more than replanting trees. Therefore I am referring here for answers.

Detailed, informative answers are appreciated.

This (may?) be tough to answer.

8 Answers

  • 12 months ago

    The thing is, it's actually a little hard to measure, because both of those things have multiple possible impacts.

    Eating locally-produced, grass-fed beef probably has less total environmental impact than eating, say, kiwi fruit flown to the US from New Zealand. Obviously, eating meat once a week has less impact than eating the same amount of meat at every meal, so the first sort of omnivore would reduce their environmental impact less by eschewing meat altogether. And so on.

    And deforestation isn't entirely straightforward in its impact, either. It actually *reduces* atmospheric carbon to, eg, cut down a bunch of trees, then replant them (as long as the wood is used for, eg, building, rather than just being burned or left to rot), because young, growing trees take in more CO2 than mature trees. Even slash-and-burn agriculture can be done in an environmentally sustainable way in a lot of rain forest areas... as long as the plots are small, and allowed to grow back to rainforest after they're used (eg slash-and-burn a field, plant your crop, harvest your crop, let the area regrow, come back in 20 years or something and slash and burn that field again)

    I really don't know the total, worldwide figures, for the environmental impact of either meat consumption, or of unsustainable logging. And the individual-contribution figures vary wildly.

  • BB
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    Over-population......the Elephant in the room.

  • 12 months ago

    Both effect the biological carbon cycle and neither adds carbon dioxide to the biosphere. Humans burning fossil fuels are what is upsetting the balance.

  • Anonymous
    12 months ago

    Article: The Planet Now Has More Trees Than It Did 35 Years Ago

    Aug 2018


    Despite ongoing deforestation, fires, drought-induced die-offs, and insect outbreaks, the world's tree cover actually increased by 2.24 million square kilometers—an area the size of Texas and Alaska combined—over the past 35 years, finds a paper published in the journal Nature.


    The authors note these numbers "contradict" data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization,...

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • Mike
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    They liberals are tearing down the forest to put up solar panels and windmills , they hate nature

  • Anonymous
    12 months ago

    Deforestation, as the more beef you eat the less Cows there are to pollute the air.

  • 12 months ago

    As you said, beef production and deforestation are closely related, but for argument's sake, let's treat them as separate issues.

    Young hardwood trees absorb about 13 kg of CO2 per year, and 10 yr old trees absorb about 48 kg of CO2 per year. By the time a tree turns 40, it can sequester 1 tonne of CO2.

    1 kg of beef produces 27 kg of equivalent CO2. On average, the globe consumes 7.9 kg of beef per person per year, but Americans consume more than three times that: 25.9 kg of beef per year.

    So if the average American emits 700 kg of CO2 per year through beef consumption alone, that's the same as 28 tonnes over 40 years. Meaning we would need to plant almost 30 trees per American to offset the emissions. On the global scale, we emit 60 billion tons of CO2 per year through beef consumption, meaning we would need 2.4 trillion trees to offset that. For reference, there are 3 trillion trees in the world.

    Of course, the reality is more complicated than that. Beef accounts for only a fraction of our carbon footprint. Plants and oceans each absorb about one quarter of our CO2 emissions, meaning half ends up in the atmosphere.

    But to answer the question of whether vegetarianism is better than planting trees, it depends on how much. Though if you're American, odds are you need to cut down on the red meat anyways.

  • JimZ
    Lv 7
    12 months ago

    Because of wacko leftist global warming alarmism, one of the unintended consequences of their Cause is the deforestation of much of the world's rain forest to grow biofuels. You won't see them talk about that much. The left leaves a wake of destruction in their path. They ruin everything they touch and they sit back and pretend to care more than those that oppose their idiot policies. I would have to go with deforestation as a bigger impact. Unsustainable logging practices are typically only conducted where property rights are limited and their banana republic governments are seeking short term gains over long term health of the environment.

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.