Meat for health and climate

When it comes to meat, the greatest climate savings come from beef and lamb, followed by pork. The best is chicken.

We are eating increasing quantities of beef in Sweden, primarily beef imported from EU countries and Latin America. The breeding of beef cattle in Ireland and Latin America and then transporting their meat means a higher average climate impact compared with raising Swedish beef cattle. This is partly because of the long breeding times involved and also because Swedish cattle are largely composed of multiple-use dairy herds, resulting in a considerably lower climate impact.

Eating according to the food pyramid model is good for both the environment and health. The food pyramid shows the proportions for a typical meal where less than ¼ of the nutrition comes from meat, fish or eggs. The rest is distributed between carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, rice, pearl barley and other grains, and vegetables. If you have a high energy need, increase the amount of hydrocarbons you eat, and if you need less energy increase the amount of vegetables. The size of the meat portion should always remain constant.

A few tips for reduced climate impact:
• Eat less meat and try to choose ecological or free-range herds.
• Instead of beef, eat chicken, pork, lamb or game more often.
• The shops are often stocked with game in the autumn and winter. Fill the freezer when this meat is offered at a good price. This is lean meat that lasts a long time in the freezer, 6-12 months
• The autumn is also the season for Swedish lamb. Order a whole or half lamb from your shop. It will last very well in the freezer for 6-12 months depending on how much fat there is on each cut

In our diet there are two types of iron: heme iron from animal-based foods (meat, liver, black pudding, liver pâté and so on) and non-heme iron which is found in plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables and beans. The body finds it easiest to absorb heme iron. Teenagers (both girls and boys) and women of childbearing age need a lot of iron. The fact is that iron deficiency is very common among Swedish women and among teenagers. Quick growth spurts, poor diet, insufficient meat in the diet and hard physical training may be some of the reasons for teenage iron deficiency.

Iron-smart tips
• Eat vegetables, fruits and berries rich in vitamin C with every meal since this contributes to more efficient absorption of iron.
• Eat sauerkraut or other vegetables naturally fermented in lactic acid bacteria since these double the intake of iron from your meal. Sourdough bread also improves iron absorption.
• Do not always drink tea or coffee straight after a meal since they impair iron absorption.
• Remember that your body is less able to absorb the iron in iron tablets but more easily able to absorb iron from the food you eat.

Christina Karlsson, ICA