Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beef-Less Thursday

Dining halls begin to go beef-less on Thursdays
In an effort to provide a more sustainable and healthy menu, UCLA Dining Services goes without beef one day a week.

By Greg Swartz Originally published in The Daily Bruin

UCLA Dining Services recently announced a new decision to remove all beef from the dining halls every Thursday beginning today for the duration of this quarter.

The move toward “Beef-less Thursdays” is meant to advance UCLA’s sustainability and wellness goals, said Robert Gilbert, the sustainability coordinator for Housing and Hospitality Services.

Beef is an environmentally unfriendly food item because cows require a great deal of water to raise and they produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas, Gilbert said.

In fact, the methane that cows naturally produce is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, he added. This means that the raising of beef contributes about twice as much to global warming as the equivalent amount of other meats.

Beyond environmental concerns, beef is high in saturated fats, which have negative implications on health.

By removing beef from the menu, the dining halls hope to save about 1,000 pounds of beef every Thursday, Gilbert said. Since every pound of beef demands approximately 1,500 gallons of water to produce, this sustainable action could save 1,500,000 gallons of water, he added.

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There are so many things that need correcting in this article. They claim they will save 1.5 million gallons of water every Thursday because they are taking beef off the menu. What they fail to think about is the food that will replace beef took water to grow as well, so common sense tells you that you won’t save that much water. And while cattle do produce methane as a result of their natural rumination process, the fact that they harvest grass that grows naturally and would otherwise be useless to humans isn’t taken into account. And finally, one-half of the fatty acid in beef is mono-unsaturated. It’s unfortunate that a university can’t do a little research and use a little common sense in order to make an informed decision.


Anonymous said...

Is there any published comparison of the amount of water used to water lawns and golf courses to agricultural lands? Or to fill back yard swimming pools for that matter? I wonder if many of these folks who are bashing beef for allegedly diminishing our water supply and polluting our air have considered thoughts similar to those above.

Troy Hadrick said...

I've seen some different figures over the years, but nothing put together in one concise report. I should do some more digging for that.