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Four meat balls and two potatoes - or the other way around?

The composition of our diets has a significant impact on the environment. Especially meat - a central element in Danish cooking - can have a negative effect.

Meat is a core element of Danish cooking, and for many people a main meal without meat is not a real meal. In the Danish food culture meat has always been a luxury food, and as prosperity has increased, the Danes can afford to eat more meat. It has now come so far that men on average eat 60 kg and women 38 kg meat per year. This has implications for the environment and individual health.

Max 500 g red meat per week

The high meat consumption is problematic for several reasons. The composition of the diet that we eat has a major impact on our health. Here, too much meat have a negative effect:

Several studies suggest that a high intake of meat can cause lifestyle diseases such as heart problems and hypertension. There are also suspicions that if you eat a lot of meat it can cause cancer of the stomach or intestines and even breast cancer. The intake of meat has also been associated obesity and diabetes.

In Denmark, there is no official recommendation of how high the maximum meat consumption
should be. An European study shows that people who eat more than 160 g red meat per day, has a 30% higher risk of getting colon cancer than people who eat less than 80 grams, while the World Cancer Research Fund recommends a maximum of 500 g red meat per week.

First, the cow will be satiated, then you

The environment is another reason to reconsider your meat consumption. Production of meat causes a large emission of greenhouse gasses. The emission of the meat production is significantly larger than growing vegetables. This is due to two things: First, CO2 is emitted during cultivation of the feed given to animals. There should be as many as 9 kilo of feed to get the calves to gain 1 kilo. It would therefore emit less greenhouse gases if we cultivated crops, we could eat, rather than to grow feed for animals and then eat them.

Second, the animal faeces and farts emit the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide. Particularly these gases are problematic, since methane is 23 and laughing gas a massive 300 times more warming than CO2. In fact, livestock holdings globally stand for 18% of the man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, and it is more than the entire transport sector emits annually!

Is it now you become a vegetarian?

Everything in moderation - and going directly from eating meat several times a day to become a vegetarian would probably be a handful. But a few meat-free meals a week also makes a difference. If you change the setting for the meal so that meat is no longer the main element, but the meal instead consists of lots of vegetables and a little meat then you're already starting to change habits.

There are clear environmental reasons to choose four potatoes and two meatballs instead of two potatoes and four meatballs and it's certainly good for your own wellbeing. Enjoy your meal.


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