- 17 Feb 2017
The global reality of carbon emissions and the rising temperature of the earth is often filtered down to the public as being attributed to car pollution, air traffic pollution and deforestation…and we’re often reminded about our responsibility to help reduce our impact on the planet by walking instead of driving, recycling, upcycling, and reducing our use of plastic. Of course this is all true, and making small changes to your daily routine is definitely the way to go to initiate change…but maybe your evening meal plan hasn’t been a consideration in your effort to help the planet.
With one small and seemingly insignificant cheese burger equating to the amount of fossil fuel it takes to drive a small car 20 miles1… livestock is one of the most significant contributors to serious environmental problems, responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation2.
So how is meat for food a problem and what can we do to help?
So what is the problem?
Raising animals for food is a huge operation and it’s the monumental scale at which we are farming animals that’s the primary issue. Taking into consideration the human population expansion, increasing urbanization and higher incomes that shape our consumption patterns3, research predicts that global meat production will double by 2050 to approximately 1.2 trillion pounds per year4.
Approximately 40% of the whole world’s land surface is used to farm meat for food5, and to create land that’s perfect for pasture and keeping the livestock, forests are cut down releasing carbon into the atmosphere. According to Greenpeace researchers, cattle ranching is now the biggest cause of deforestation, with nearly 80% of deforested areas in Brazil used for pasture6.
With the exchange of thousands of years of nutrient-rich forest for flat grass lands, growing crops and grains to feed the livestock is also accountable for the hefty carbon emissions. There are the fossil fuels consumed by the machinery used to till, sow and harvest, and the huge amounts of pesticides and fertilisers contributing to copious amounts of nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere.
One of the main ways the current scale of animal agriculture is contributing to global warming is the production of methane, cows being the weighty culprit producing 150 billion gallons of methane per day7, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide8.
Some food for thought…
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation2.
Livestock and their by products account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions9.
Emissions for agriculture projected to increase 80% by 205010.
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction. 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second9.
1.5 acres can produce 37,000 pounds of plant-based food. 1.5 acres can produce 375 pounds of meat9.
What’s the answer…
For big change, individual nations have to put strategies in place for more sustainable farming methods, but curbing the demand is also a viable option.
Take a day off…
Cut meat from your diet at least one day a week! Meat free Monday is a not-for-profit campaign which aims to raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of eating meat and encourage people to help slow climate change. Naturally Ella has so many delicious vegetarian recipes for dinner inspiration to keep you going all year!
Beef-ore you choose beef…
Beef requires significantly more resources that other meats like chicken and pork… 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizer and 11 times more water than producing to be precise8.
Organic meat describes how the animal is raised. Organic meat cannot be confined to feeding for extended periods of time, can’t be overcrowded and cannot be directly or indirectly exposed to pesticides, fertilisers, antibiotics, hormones or any other synthetic contaminant11.
Throughout evolution grazing animals would have roamed-free grazing mostly on grass. Driving consumer purchasing towards grass-fed animals will reduce the need for land used to grow corn and grains, thus reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides.