I’ve always been quite a conscious eater but a heart condition a few years ago left me unable to exercise and on medication which made me put on weight. My nutrition was the only thing I could control to mange my weight and my physical health. Food became an even greater passion of mine and I read lots of books and articles and absorbed as much information on the topic that I could. I am now at university studying nutrition in order to hopefully pursue a career in this field.
I have always eaten quite a varied diet but have experimented more with foods and different ingredients the older I have become. Over the past few months I found myself learning a lot more about the environment and becoming more aware of the impact we, as humans, have on the planet and the issues we are currently facing (global warming, deforestation, overpopulation, waste disposal).
Armed with all this information I felt I couldn’t ignore it and do nothing. Solutions will not be found if things do not change. So, I began reducing my meat intake, in time I realised I wasn’t really eating meat at all anymore and didn’t really miss it or want it. Now, I no longer eat meat and actually feel even better physically than I did before!
Here is a summary of some of the information I came across about the effect of meat consumption on some of the current issues the planet is facing:
- Water resources are scarce – only 2.5% of all water on Earth is fresh water and only 0.3% of this fresh water is accessible for humans to use (FreshWaterWatch). Due to this, how we use that water is very important. It is estimated that it takes 43,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef whereas it takes only 1 litre of water to produce 1kg of grain.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production represents 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions produced by humans. These emissions come directly from the livestock and also indirectly from the resources used in animal production.
- The main cause of deforestation is animal agriculture and it is estimated that the world’s rainforests will entirely vanish within the next 100 years (National Geographic).
- With the global population increasing the FAO estimates that world food production will need to increase by 70% by 2050. The Population Institute believes this could be an underestimation. This could also cause further issues with water usage and land uses. Looking at the above points it would be better to increase crop production rather than animal production. However, there are still land issues here with crop-based agriculture.
These are some of the reasons why I have moved to a plant-based diet (as well as those to do with health and the cruelty of animal agriculture).
I know that for some a meal is not a meal without a piece of meat (I was brought up this way). But we do not need meat to survive or even thrive, there are other ways to get protein and I really feel that we need to consider the future of the planet as well as ourselves as it will outlive us. We do not own the earth, we live here for such a short amount of time and I do not want to have a detrimental impact on this planet. I am not saying everyone needs to stop eating animals but a reduction in the amount of animal products each human consumes would have a huge impact on the planet and on some of our most pressing climate concerns. Maybe joining in with #meatfreemonday or maybe becoming a weekday vegetarian; we can all do a little more to do our bit to help!
For a little inspiration on reducing your meat consumption watch this 5-minute TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/graham_hill_weekday_vegetarian