We’ve all heard that meat consumption is hard on the environment as livestock creates more greenhouse gases than cars, but what about the cheese?
A recent report by the Environmental Working Group lists the three biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions for protein sources. Numero uno is lamb, followed by beef and third place goes to cheese. Cheese has more emissions than pork, chicken or fish and is much worse than other dairy products like yogurt or milk. What gives?
It takes a lot of moo-juice to make cheese – about 10 pounds of milk to make one pound of hard cheese. Milk comes from dairy cows and they emit a large amount of methane, a greenhouse gas. Then you have the grains from feeding the cows to produce the milk to make the cheese and that adds up to a large environmental impact. What’s a tree-hugging cheese-lover to do? If you’re not ready to go completely vegan, here are a few tips.
Buy local. Buy from your local producer, especially ones that use sustainable methods. Grass-fed cows have far less of a negative environmental impact. Sustainable dairy operations also use fewer chemicals, pollute less and treat their animals humanely.
Think soft. Most soft cheeses that are lower in fat are the best choices as they’re both healthier and make less of an environmental impact. Cottage cheese, ricotta and part-skim mozzarella are low-fat options. Brie and Camembert and feta have less fat than cheddar. Who knew?
Eat less, enjoy more. Let’s face it – cheese is yummy. Eat a bit less, make eco-friendly choices (local, organic, lower-fat) and enjoy more.
Wait – how about goat or sheep cheese? Sorry. They are roughly the same in terms of emissions as cows. Nice try though!