Swapping out foods for planet-healthy options can also help you lose weight

Missing just one serving of beef a day can reduce your diet's carbon footprint by up to 48%

Woman holding packaged red meat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's no denying beef is absolutely delicious, or the healthy protein and iron content of a good cut of steak. However, due to the land required to raise cattle, and the impact of industrial farming on the planet, new research says swapping beef products for other alternatives could drastically reduce your carbon footprint.

It doesn't necessarily mean you have to go vegan – however, our best vegan cookbooks list can give you plenty of plant-based options if you're considering a flexitarian life. You could replace beef with poultry or other meats, and achieve a similar planet-protecting effect. 

The new Tulane University (opens in new tab) study found Americans who eat beef could reduce their diet's carbon footprint, or the environmental affect caused by our food, as much as 48 percent by swapping just one serving per day for a "more planet-friendly alternative". Plant-based foods are definitely on the menu, but poultry such as chicken or turkey have a significantly lower carbon footprint than cattle.

Burger

(Image credit: Oliver Sjöström/Unsplash)

Lead author Diego Rose said: "Many individuals feel strongly about [the climate crisis] and wish to change our climate problem through direct actions that they can control. This, in turn, can change social norms about both the seriousness of the problem and the potential solutions that can address it. Our study provides evidence that even simple steps can assist in these efforts."

Beef, especially lean cuts like sirloin, fillet and rump, has lots of health benefits such as protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. However, beef is often highly processed, and processed red meats have been linked to heart disease and cancer by several studies, including this (opens in new tab) report from Oxford University. 

By cutting out a serving of beef, you may be skipping a processed fast-food beef burger in favor of a heart-healthier option. If you're choosing not to be vegetarian or vegan, it's fine from a health perspective to have a nice steak or lean bit of ground chuck every once in a while. But swapping regular beef consumption is likely to lead to you being healthier as well as greener. 

You can get those missing nutritional benefits, the protein and omega-3, from the best protein powder for weight loss and best fish oil supplements instead. 

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.