Why eating pig’s feet and cow’s stomach can help save the planet

CNN  — 

How often do you eat meat? Once a week? Every day?

If it’s the latter, your diet is having a huge impact on the planet.

You’ve probably heard that the best way to fight climate change is to reduce your meat intake, but if you’re not ready to go full vegan, a new study has found that you can slash polluting emissions by swapping your steak for animal organs.

The meat industry accounts for 14.5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transport sector’s direct carbon output.

Cattle products are particularly harmful, as cows produce huge amounts of noxious methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide – when they burp or pass gas.

Despite growing awareness of its negative environmental impacts, we are producing and eating more meat than ever.

We’re eating more beef than ever – but at what cost?

Nose to tail eating

But even meat-lovers can help slash emissions by cutting down on meat waste and adopting a “nose to tail” diet, which aims to use every part of the animal.

According to a study published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, swapping beef ribs and pork chops for offal, internal organs and pig’s trotters could lead to a drastic reduction in emissions.

The study on Germany’s meat supply chain found that while reducing total meat consumption could see emissions fall by 32%, eating more offal instead of popular cuts could also lead to a significant reduction.

If 50% less offal was thrown away during the slaughtering process and consumed as food instead, emissions could fall by 14%, according to lead author Professor Gang Liu of the University of Southern Denmark.

Combat climate change by cutting beef and lamb production

There is “huge potential [to lower emissions] by eating more byproducts and reducing waste along the supply chain,” Liu said.

He said that the nose to tail diet was a more effective mitigation strategy than one aimed at “turning the [entire] global population vegetarian.”

“This way you could use meat more efficiently,” he said, adding that in many Asian countries eating meat byproducts, such as tripe and lungs, is common.

Trevor Gulliver, who co-founded the first nose-to-tail restaurant, St. John, in London, said Western countries “waste horrendous amounts of food with all the potentially catastrophic effects of that.”

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“Offal opens up the sense of the whole beast to the Western world, gives greater value to those cuts and brings back greater skills into our kitchens,” he said.

Trevor Gulliver’s 5 favorite nose-to-tail dishes

  • Roast bone marrow and parsley salad, which uses veal shin bones
  • Kid faggots, a dish featuring the “pluck” (lungs, liver, heart) of young male goats that are otherwise discarded by the dairy industry
  • Devilled kidneys, lamb kidneys cooked in Worcestershire sauce and served on toast
  • Terrine, using whichever parts are to hand at the time of making: liver, heart, rabbit offal
  • Rolled pig’s spleen with sage and bacon