Is Beef An Environmental Asteroid?

Green Monday is an Asian start-up gaining notoriety for its anti-livestock message. Its objective is “to tackle climate change and global food insecurity by making low-carbon and sustainable living simple, viral and actionable.”

In other words, livestock production and meat eating should be forbidden. That’s the opinion of Green Monday founder David Yeung, a graduate of Columbia University in the U.S., who launched Green Monday from his native Hong Kong in 2012.

Yeung told CNBC the livestock industry is “the most pressing global sustainability crisis.” The livestock industry’s release of carbon into the environment, challenges with food production efficiency, and connection to water scarcity are the issues of concern, he added.

Yeung’s start-up now partners with innovative food-tech companies to create alternate vegan food choices.

He’s also launched Green Common, Asia’s first plant-based grocer with the mission to “empower the community with sustainable, innovative, wholesome and responsible food choices.”

Increasingly, consumers across the globe are bombarded with messages that livestock are a man-made environmental asteroid destroying our planet.


New York Times contributing op-ed writer Richard Conniff, calls for a carbon tax to help reduce livestock production.

Both Conniff and Yeung cite a 14-year-old United Nations report that claimed livestock contribute more greenhouse gas  emissions than all of transportation—autos, planes, ships, etc. The authors of the report have since admitted their calculations were flawed, but the claim lives on because it fits the environmental fire alarm about livestock. 

Logic suggests we would greatly reduce our food supply if we stopped using livestock to convert grass and sunshine into milk and meat. Which is also the scientific conclusion researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Virginia Tech arrived at with a study published in the Proceedings of National Academies of Sciences.

Their take? A healthy and sustainable food system depends on having both plants and animals.

Sara Place, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association senior director of sustainable beef production research, says the study suggests without animal agriculture, “We’d reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 2.6%, and 0.36% globally — but we’d also upset our balanced food ecosystem and lack essential dietary nutrients to feed all Americans.”

Place says livestock take human inedible food and make it nutritious. “Specifically, cattle act as upcyclers — meaning they eat grasses and plant matter leftover from human food production and upgrade them into nutritional, high-quality protein. In fact, they produce 19% more edible protein than they consume.”

Science and logic both seem to refute the theory that eliminating livestock from our diet would mitigate climate change.