Why Consuming Less Meat Is The Best Thing You Can Do To Save The Environment


By Mayukh Saha

It is important to recycle and practice energy saving measures like using public transportation, turning to sustainable sources of energy, etc. But these are superficial changes and the time has now come to look at the bigger picture. According to science, the best way we can help the planet right now is by cutting down on the amount of meat we consume.

In 2018, many researchers published studies that reveal how detrimental consuming meat is to the environment. The consumption of meat, especially pork and beef, speeds up the process of global warming and is responsible for the pollution of many water bodies as well as landscapes.

The industrialization of agriculture coupled with the dire news of our slow movement towards another mass extinction since the era of the dinosaurs indicates that human beings and our domesticated animals make up for 96% of all mammals on the planet. Even though most of the land used in agriculture is dedicated to livestock, products like dairy and meat make up less than 20% of all food calories and only about one third of protein.

And the problem of breeding livestock for meat is not just about inefficiency. Cutting down of trees on a large scale in order to make enough space to properly breed farm animals combined with the methane emitted by cattle and the different kinds of fertilizers used by farmers together produce and radiate the same amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as all the automobiles and airplanes on the planet. The industrial practices used to breed livestock are putting all the other animals on the planet at the risk of becoming completely extinct. They are also responsible for the pollution of oceans as well as smaller water bodies.

It was only last October when experts cautioned everyone that a drastic drop in meat consumption is absolutely necessary if we expect to prevent the worst effects of global warming. Especially in the West, the demand for beef needs to decrease by 90%. They suggested that using five times that amount of pulses and beans could be a viable alternative.

Besides beef, we also need to decrease our use of pork, dairy, and eggs especially now since researcher’s postulate that the population will climb by another two billion people in the next thirty years or so. Globally, we all need to move to a ‘flexitarian’ diet if we want to ensure that temperatures across the earth don’t rise by more than 2 degree Celsius. This is the measure that scientists and governments worldwide have arrived at.

Many have put their heads together and come with measures to reduce the rate of meat consumption. These ideas range from taxing red meat to making cattle eat seaweed instead of grass so that they don’t emit as much methane when they fart or burp. There are even experts who argue that switching from pork and beef to insects would be a much more viable option.

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The most likely path to take would be for more people to turn vegetarians as meat manufactured in labs is going to become more popular and is also easier to produce. Certain alternatives offered by vegans like the Impossible burger are also more in demand than they were earlier. No matter how we choose to go about it, the fact of the matter is that change is absolutely necessary and we cannot put it off any longer. The consequences for this planet will be drastic and irreversible if we do not fix our food system in 2019.

IMAGE CREDIT1:  Laurin Rinder

IMAGE CREDIT2: Paul Grecaud

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