OPINION: Stop eating steak to help save the environment

Niki Bruce
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

A recent study that has been travelling around the internet claims that if we all stopped eating steak once a week, we could actually help stop climate change. Are you ready to accept the challenge? 

According to a number of global statistics producing animals for meat products is considered to be one of the largest industries responsible for creating excessive greenhouse gases, which in turn are blamed for a lot of the climate change problems. 

Claims are that between 9% and 14% of the global total of greenhouse gases - about 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year - come from the beef production industry. Not only the cows themselves, but also the cutting down of forests to create more grazing lands for them, contribute to the problem. Cows produce methane, which traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide, as well. 


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On top of those issues, it takes about 1.3kg of grain to produce about 0.45 kgs of meat; and that grain takes about 1,500 litres of water to make one kilo. And these are just the basic numbers connected to getting an average sized piece of steak onto your plate; once you add things like the carbon footprint it took to ship the steak, the petrol used to deliver it to your supermarket or home, and the cost to the environment really start to add up. 

A recent report by Michael Clark and David Tilman, that was published by IOP Science, examined the environmental impact of animal agriculture and found that “plant-based foods have the lowest environmental impacts; eggs, dairy, pork, poultry, non-trawling fisheries, and non-recirculating aquaculture have intermediate impacts; and ruminant meat has impacts ∼100 times those of plant-based foods”. 

(PHOTO: Getty Images)

Yes, that’s right. Eating meat, particularly beef and lamb, is 100 times worse for the environment than eating plants.

However, the same study also found that producing plant-based foods organically actually uses up more land, and while using less energy, actually causes “similar greenhouse gas emissions as conventional systems”. Yes; organic food isn’t actually any better for the environment than food grown in a non-organic way. 

Basically, if you give up one 142 gram piece of steak per week, replacing that meat with vegetables, you will stop about 270 kg of carbon dioxide getting into the atmosphere. While there are already a lot of people choosing to eat a vegetarian or even a vegan diet, apparently meat eating is still going strong, which means there could be some easy environmental gains to be made. 

So, are you ready to take up the challenge and refrain from eating steak once a week?

Interested in vegetarian and vegan food? Try one of these options:


Pollen at Gardens by the Bay

18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-09, Singapore 018953. +65 6604 9988. 

Open: Mon, Wed-Sun noon-3pm, 6-10pm.


44 Jalan Eunos, Singapore 419502. +65 6844 6868.

Open: Daily 11.30am-10pm.

Whole Earth

76 Peck Seah Street, Singapore 079331. +65 6221 6583. 

Open: Daily 11.30am-3pm, 5.30-10pm.

Original Sin

Block 43 Jalan Merah Saga #01-62, Singapore 278115. +65 6475 5605. 

Open: Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm.

Café Salivation 

176 Race Course Road, Singapore 218607. +65 6298 1412. 

Open: Mon-Thu & Sun 10am-10.30pm; Fri & Sat 10am-11pm.

Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant

19 Upper Dickson Road, Singapore 207478. +65 6396 7769. 

Open: Daily 10.30am-10pm.


WTF Restaurant

98, Lorong Maarof, Bangsar Park, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

+60 19-261 7070

Open: Mon - Sun 11am-11pm

Nature’s Vegetarian Restaurant

24, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

+60 3-2283 5523

Open: Mon - Sun 9am - 9.45pm


116, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

+60 3-2274 0799

Open: Tues - Sun 11.30am - 3pm, 6.30pm-10pm

Botanist Cafe

41 & 43, Jalan Melaka Raya 8, Taman Melaka Raya, 75000 Melaka, Malaysia. +60 6-292 2819

Open: Mon - Sun 9am-10pm except Tues.

Waterlily Restaurant

23, Jalan Tun H S Lee, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. +60 3-2070 6561

Open: Mon - Sun 10am-9.30pm