How much more food energy is used by consuming meat instead of vegetables?



  1. 0 Votes

    A typical vegetable requires about 2-3 units of energy put into it for every unit of protein energy we receive from it. This number is higher for meat, with the energy in to energy out ratio being about 4:1 for chicken (higher for free range), turkey is 10:1, pork and dairy are 14:1, grass-fed beef is 20:1, eggs are 39:1, average beef is 40:1, and lamb is 57:1. Again, this is versus about 2.5:1 for grains (the number for fruits and vegetables is a bit higher, soy is close to grains). This means chicken is not much worse than fruits and veggies from an energy standpoint, but beef is about 10 times as energy intensive as chicken.

    The reason why eggs are so high is because of the little amount of protein in each egg and the small amount that is of the feed you must give to the chicken throughout it’s entire life. The cattle industry is also a huge source of emissions, not only from the energy going into making the beef, but the rainforest cut down for pasture land and the methane emissions of ruminants such as cows and sheep.

    Note: The link below is to older data from the same professor, the new data can be found in the Encyclopedia of Energy, 2004. The paper is by Dr. Pimentel from Cornell University and is called Livestock Production and Energy Use.

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