Richard Branson’s Beef with Beef is Groundless

According to the Daily Mail, “Sir Richard Branson Gives Up Beef to Save the World.”

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson announces with great fanfare that he has renounced beef.

‘I have given up what was previously one of my favourite foods,’ he declares.

‘Meat consumption today contributes to global warming and environmental degradation.’

The article notes, correctly, that Branson is a giant hypocrite:

At the latest count, Beardie’s company Virgin Atlantic operates 38 aircraft, creating a carbon footprint of 5.9 million tonnes of the greenhouse gas CO2 each year.

Branson also plans to launch Virgin Galactic spacecraft, whose emissions will be the equivalent of a return trip by jet from London to Los Angeles for each passenger.

A juicy quarter-pounder, incidentally, is said to cause 0.0015 tonnes of CO2 emissions, according to even the most militant of eco-warriors.

I’ve suggested elsewhere that this kind of “hypocrisy” is actually something much worse—a commitment to a double standard where the rich get their toys while the middle and lower classes get crushed. It would be easy to believe this was Branson’s attitude.

As I’ve posted about before, Branson is a zealot for global warming. But his science is really lacking. If anything is truly responsible for “environmental degradation” it is eating agriculture products, especially grain.

I’m not saying that anyone should stop eating bread for the sake of the environment. But I have to point out that Branson’s accusation against beef actually applies to grain, not to the cows.

Cows don’t have to be fed grain. They can graze. They don’t need to be stuck in stalls and stuffed with corn. They are God’s natural method for turning sunlight into usable food for human beings because they have bacteria in their stomachs. These gut bacteria eat the cellulose and the cows eat the bacteria.

Because the government has subsidized grains and made them so cheap, it has become economically sensible to stuff the cows with grain rather than graze them. In order to produce a grain crop, a massive amount of land has to be stripped down and the soil used to grow one and only one crop. This is arguably much more environmentally degrading than anything cows do. Subsidized grain has probably not helped the health of the general population either.

Even though most beef is grain-fed right now, it doesn’t have to be. Avoiding beef does exactly nothing to save the environment. Abstaining from beef is not a morally superior practice.