Meat

Meat

“Less Meat Less Heat (LMLH) is a grassroots, non-profit organisation dedicated to shifting societal attitudes towards meat consumption and as such curtailing agriculture’s damaging influence on the global climate. Our work encompasses educating the public through sound science about the massive carbon footprint of beef and lamb. Through helping individuals transition to low-carbon eating habits we aim to leverage the power of individual action as the best tool for mitigating the threat of climate change.

From the home page of Less Meat Less Heat website

Cows belch often.

They are ruminants, mammals that enlist microbes to ferment plants they ingest in a specialised stomach prior to digestion. This symbiosis means they able to exist on a diet high in cellulose, a key constituent of grass.

Only it also means that cows belch a lot. The bacteria that assist the cow to digest cellulose include methanogens that produce methane as a metabolic byproduct. This gas builds up and has to be let out. It’s similar for us only we tend to fart more than belch.

The problem for the climate change conundrum is that methane is a greenhouse gas over 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And methane is what ruminants burp.

An average dairy cow puts out around 100 kg of methane each year. Depending on how you calculate it, this is roughly equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from a car. Beef cattle belch a little less so it takes two to match up to a car. The global numbers are interesting though. There are a little over 1 billion cars on earth and somewhere between 1.3 and 1.5 billion cows.

As far as the greenhouse gas balance goes, human consumption of meat and dairy products is roughly equivalent to the impact from our cars.

Note that this is without counting emissions from the clearing of woody vegetation to find or grow enough grass for the livestock.

Methane from ruminants (cattle, goats and sheep) makes up over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and up to 14% of all global emissions.

This is a big deal.

So much so that some people, such as those responsible for the quote above, are adamant that meat from cows and sheep is an environmental disaster. Only there is a significant reason why agriculture is often left out of any national carbon accounting even though it is the source of a third of global emissions.

People have to eat.

In the next hour as souls depart and new ones join the human diaspora there will be a change. In an hours time, there will be at least 9,700 more souls on the planet than we have right now. Funerals and births are not yet in balance.

Assuming that these souls are nourished around 500ha of productive land will be needed to grow enough calories for their daily needs.

A year from now when 83 million new souls have joined, the planet has to give up 4.6 million ha of productive land to feed them.

This crude calculation makes some simple assumptions. Calorie intake is 20% more than is needed to avoid starvation but half that consumed by the average US citizen. Calories come from growing wheat, and not from animal products. All else is equal, so the 7.5 billion souls already here are being fed and watered too.

Having meandered away to the big picture reality, let’s look again at the “massive carbon footprint of beef and lamb” and “low-carbon eating habits… as the best tool for mitigating the threat of climate change.”

If we all grew dreadlocks and avoided meat, then the calorific conversion from land to the plate would be improved. No need for the respiration of animals burning the calories before we got at them. And no need for their nasty methane emissions.

But we still need 2,500 calories per person per day.

If all this energy came from plant products, agriculture was near perfect efficiency and all else was equal, the 7.5 billion souls need a little over 4 million km2 of productive land to generate enough vegetarian calories.

There are roughly 48 million km2 of agricultural land on earth, so we should be fine. Plus there are ever more sophisticated technologies that can intensify food production to deliver greater yield from smaller areas. Hydroponics is a fine example.

So in theory at least there is enough land to feed perhaps 9 or even 11 billion souls. No worries and no fuss.

And as ‘less meat, less heat’ proclaim, without meat, we can mitigate the threat of climate change.

If only it were that simple.

Pancakes

banana pancakes Back in the day some genetic conditioning had me realize that “he who provides will find a mate” a confused confusion if ever I heard one.

So I learnt to cook.

Not to the Masterchef skill level but enough to hopefully impress the ladies. I can remember a few horribly lame attempts in the early days — meat and two veg is never going to cut it. And then I discovered pancakes.

Now we are not talking about the sickly sweet variety that begins life as powder in plastic bottles on supermarket shelves.

These are proper pancakes with whole meal flour, eggs, a dash of milk and a layer of lightly stewed apples with just a little too much cinnamon. Topped with real maple syrup this works a treat, as my beautiful wife will attest.

After more than a decade of happy togetherness I am still grateful to the whole meal pancake.

Then a problem emerged when a year ago we made a family decision to give up eating wheat. Well almost because I challenge anyone to give up pasta made at home by an Italian.

Once in a blue moon a home-made pizza also makes it onto the dinner table but bread has gone the way of pastries and other commercial grain products. We pass on any processed foods with flour.

It is remarkable what a difference that decision has made to our health and, dare I say, wellbeing. And that is a big call from a crusty bread and jam addict.

It is also remarkable how restrictive it is being truly wheat free when out and about. I have often stared at the display cabinet in a café and failed to find anything that I could order.

But I digress. Back to pancakes.

Was it too much to also give away that small but significant token of affection? Of course it was for it is not the cooking that matters at all. It is all about the action of providing food from a loving place.

So I needed an alternative to the whole-wheat delights and found it in a fruit.

Banana pancakes

Yes, banana pancakes. They are  truly worthy and although the recipe is modest there is enough technique to demonstrate that you really do care.

  • 4 bananas [green tinged skin are ideal as you need firm flesh]
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 generous tablespoons of almond meal
  • half a teaspoon of baking powder
  • coconut oil
  • berries
  • maple syrup

Here is what you do

Add everything to a big bowl and blend with a stick mixer until you can get a lava like consistency to the mixture. There is no risk of over doing it.

While this is going on put the heat under the biggest and baddest non-stick fry pan you own. Not too much heat though. The trick to the banana pancake is long and slow for they are usually thick, more a pikelet than a pancake, and too much heat produces burnt mush.

The other secret weapon is coconut oil. You can use the spray can version but the solid stuff that comes in a jar is best

Let about half a teaspoon melt in the pan and spread it with a spatula.

Now add the pancake mixture one tablespoon at a time with space between the blobs.

They are ready to turn when a shake of the pan sees at least one of them moving.

Flip with said spatula for any attempt to impress with fry pan dexterity will end badly.

Serve on a big platter topped with berries of your choice — blueberries for the sweeter tooth and raspberries for those who prefer the tart taste.

Have plenty of real maple syrup to hand and present with two spoons. Eat directly from the platter remembering that although you are the bloke, under no circumstances eat more than half the pancakes.

This is such a winner that it may even be better than the original cinnamon-apple version.

formerly banana pancakes s

Minions will love it too.