The Environmental Working Group, (ewg.org) offers a “Meat Eaters Guide,” which looks at the environmental impact of 20 conventionally-grown protein sources, including beans, dairy, produce, meat and poultry. The rankings evaluate the carbon impact of the food’s full “lifecycle” - including water and fertilizer used to grow crops, transportation and even the amount of food that’s wasted.
The top five best protein choices are:
1. Lentils – eat these often, they deliver fiber and nutrients.
2. Tomatoes – helps ward off disease, and are low in fat and calories.
3. Milk – organic or milk from grass fed cows is best.
4. Beans – opt for dry beans for the lowest carbon footprint.
5. Tofu – good plant protein, but watch out for genetically modified soybeans.
The bottom five worst protein choices are:
16. Salmon – eat occasionally, choose wild salmon over farmed whenever possible.
17. Pork – eat less; skip processed pork (like bacon).
18. Cheese – opt for low-fat cottage cheese.
19. Beef – avoid processed beef (sausage) because of the bigger carbon footprint.
20. Lamb – worst for carbon footprint.