Learn the Footprint of Your Meat Consumption With the Omni Calculator

Promo image. American Meat Institute 1945

Some useful tools for working on a 1.5 degree lifestyle.

After reading a TreeHugger post about the carbon footprint of agriculture, Hanna Pamuła of The Omni Calculator Project contacted me to describe a tool that might help figure this out.

I did research with Dr. Aleksandra Zając, MD, and built a tool for The Omni Calculator Project that calculates the benefits of reducing your current meat consumption on your health and on your planet. Did you know that a single beef serving every week for a year is equivalent to 62 people’s annual water intake?
I do now! It's actually a very interesting tool, with a lot of information on the side about the problems of meat, the sources of its emissions, health impacts, land use, and other forms of pollution. But I was most interested in the carbon footprint, with its application to the 1.5 degree lifestyle project.
Meat calculator

Meat footprint calculator/Screen capture

The calculator is based on the work of J. Poore and T. Nemecek that Katherine Martinko discussed previously, which studied over 1,500 life cycle assessments and consolidated data from 38,000 farms in 120 countries. I have also been using it in my calculations for the 1.5 degree diet.

Carbon Footprints

Poore and Nemecek /CC BY 4.0

One of the issues with that study is that it can be all over the map; the grey bar is the range, and the number used in calculators is the mean, but that's the best we've got. The Omni researchers came to the same conclusion: "As expected, the authors found out that the ecological footprint is highly variable, as it depends on the whole food production chain: methods, location, transport process, retail and consumer actions, and many more factors."

I did not know that Omni calculator existed, and they have many more related to environmental issues, measuring plastic footprints, tap water calculators and even a cigarette butts cleanup calculator. I was disappointed that the plastics calculators didn't really tell me very much, other than the amount – not the carbon footprint or the percentage recycled. This one really was just a glorified calculator. The Hand Drying calculator was more interesting, actually calculating the carbon footprint of different ways of drying from paper towels to high power air dryers, but has a weird dropdown menu format so that you can only measure one kind of dryer at a time. It's also based on a Dyson study that we have questioned before, as they are not exactly a disinterested party. But when you learn what the Omni people are trying to do, I think it's fine that these are rough tools for general use:

Far too often, we perceive the world through the lens of our emotions, feelings, and intuition. Meanwhile, a multitude of our problems can be solved with a tiny bit of math....A world driven by rational decisions is a better place. It's a world where we don't waste resources as much, believe nonsense a bit less, and don't mistake opinions for facts.

This was a real find; thank you, Hanna Pamula.

Go to the online calculator or try the widget here.

Meat Footprint Calculator