First, raising cattle involves two rounds of agriculture — first, growing feed corn for the cows, and then raising cows with that corn, Rose said.
Cows’ digestive systems also are geared to draw maximum nutrition from grass, which involves digestion through a series of four stomachs, Rose said. This produces a lot of methane, which the cows expel by burping or passing gas.
One positive side effect from subbing out beef came in people’s overall diet quality, as measured by a healthy eating index, Rose said.
“People’s diets improved not just from the carbon footprint but the healthiness of their diet as well,” he said. “It’s not a lot, but it’s there and it’s significant. It’s a win-win.”
Wayne Campbell is a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He said that the study’s conclusions were “consistent with what would be expected” from replacing red meat with white.
“I like the way they did their calculations within the context of what people generally eat, as opposed to manipulating someone’s diet in a contrived manner,” said Campbell, who wasn’t involved with the study.
But he said more research is needed.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate based on the limited information that is provided here to all of a sudden say for everybody to go buy a piece of chicken instead of a piece of steak for the grill,” Campbell said.
For instance, he questioned whether substituting beef for chicken would always be the healthiest dietary choice.
“For example, if the person is eating highly processed fatty sausages as their red meat and they switch to a baked chicken breast, that’s going to have a much more positive impact on their health than if they were eating a lean pork tenderloin and switched to fried chicken,” Campbell said.
Further studies also should examine whether people would be willing to make the suggested dietary changes, he added.
Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The study was funded by Wellcome Trust, a London-based biomedical research charity.
WebMD News from HealthDay
SOURCES: Diego Rose, Ph.D., M.P.H., director, nutrition, Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Tulane University, New Orleans; Wayne Campbell, Ph.D., M.S., professor, nutrition science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.; American Society for Nutrition, annual meeting, June 10, 2019, Baltimore
Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.