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New Calculator Illustrates Extent, Environmental Impacts of US Meat Consumption

Image credit: Pixabay

The US consumes more meat than any other country in the world. But what does this mean for consumers on a personal level? Blitz Results has created a new calculator that shows users the impact of their dietary decisions on the environment. The tool calculates the resources required for an individual's consumption of meat, and provides users with a glimpse at how eating vegetarian alternatives can help drive down their impact.

Over a period of 10 years, the average US consumer eats 2653 pounds of meat, the equivalent of 2.1 pigs, .7 cows and 288 chickens. The Meat Blitz-Calculator allows users to visualize how many animals were slaughtered for their dietary habits and the amount of antibiotics and resources used to raise the livestock. Vegetarians can also use the tool to calculate how their food choices impact the environment.

The calculator measures how much CO2, water, antibiotics and animals are needed to fuel an individual’s consumption. Standard values, such as the average meat consumption of a US consumer, are pre-filled, but can be adapted to one’s own eating habits, providing each consumer with a personalized result. Additionally, it is possible to simulate how many resources could be saved if some of their meat-based meals were replaced by a vegetarian alternative. Consumers can play with the numbers to create a variety of different scenarios: What happens if I continue to eat in the same manner? How much water could I save by eating two vegetarian meals per week?

“Discussions between vegetarians and dyed-in-the-wool meat eaters are often very emotional. The arguments are usually strongly influenced by one’s own values. Hardly anyone argues by the numbers. And if numbers are used, they are often general and vague. Sure, everyone knows that animals are bred and slaughtered for meat production. But a steak on the grill doesn’t tell you its story. You just don’t see the negative environmental impact and side-effects. The Meat-Calculator makes the use of resources and the negative consequences for the environment tangible,” said Tim Lilling, Researcher at

Available information regarding the impact of meat consumption is often quite general. The major advantage of the Meat-Calculator is that it allows consumers to put this information into context of their own lives. The calculator is based on data and studies from the US Federal Department of Agriculture and OECD. The goal of the calculator is not to convert consumers to one type of diet or another, but to help consumers make more informed decisions about their consumption habits and increase food industry transparency. The meat calculator takes this information one step further by putting the data into perspective for individual consumers.

A similar tool was launched last year by MorningStar Farms and the World Resources Institute (WRI), coinciding with the publication of data that asserted that the average American could cut their diet-related environmental impacts by nearly half just by eating less meat and dairy. Created in partnership with Quantis, the Veg Effect Calculator™ allows people to calculate how making small changes to the way they eat can have significant environmental impacts. The calculator was created using the results of study comparing the environmental impact of vegetarian meals, meat-based meals and several MorningStar Farms products.

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