Anyone for snake and chips?

Published Mar 15, 2024


With the many challenges facing our local poultry and livestock industry and a world struggling with environmental challenges, the quest for sustainable food sources is constantly growing.

While traditional staples like beef and chicken have long dominated our dinner plates, a surprising contender has emerged as a potential eco-friendly alternative: snake meat.

Yes, you read that right – consuming snake meat is better for the environment than beef or chicken.

Cattle farming is notorious for its environmental impact, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock farming accounts for around fifty to sixty percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This staggering figure is largely attributed to methane emissions from cattle digestion and nitrous oxide emissions from manure.

Chicken farming also comes with its own set of environmental challenges

While poultry production generally emits fewer greenhouse gases compared to beef, it still contributes to deforestation and habitat destruction.

The cultivation of feed crops such as soya beans and maize for chicken feed often involves the clearing of forests, leading to loss of biodiversity.

Snake farming offers a more sustainable alternative

Snake meat production requires less land, water, and feed compared to traditional livestock farming.

As snakes are cold-blooded with lower metabolic rates, they require less food to sustain themselves and there is reduced pressure on agricultural land and resources.

Snake farming also has the potential to utilise by-products from other industries, thereby reducing waste. For example, some snake farms feed their reptiles with rodents bred for laboratory experiments or surplus fish from aquaculture operations.

By repurposing these otherwise discarded resources, snake farming contributes to a more efficient and circular food system.

Snake farming has low methane emissions

Unlike cattle, snakes have a simpler digestive system that produces fewer methane emissions during digestion. This means that consuming snake meat results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of meat produced compared to beef and chicken.

Of course, it's important that sustainable snake farming practises prioritise animal welfare and ethical treatment. Farms should adhere to strict regulations and standards to ensure the humane treatment of snakes throughout their life-cycle.

While the idea of eating snake meat may raise eyebrows for South Africans, it's worth considering its potential environmental benefits.

IOL Lifestyle

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