I’m trying to eat less meat. You can read about my flirtations with vegetarianism here. Not for the planet (I had only the dimmest idea that meat was bad for the planet before I read the following post) but because eating animals has never sat entirely well with me. Admittedly it sits better at some times than others…like when I’m eating a tasty sausage. But I’ve stopped eating pork, ham and bacon because, well, I like pigs. In fact I’d like to adopt one.
Here’s a guest post from Kidspot editor, Lexy Brooks:
This morning I received her ode to Meat Free Mondays, which is something that’s been on my mind for a while. You see, I love my meat. My son Captain Dramatic proudly calls himself a carnivore. Yet ALL the environmental groups tell us we need to eat less meat to help save the planet.
I’m so not sure I can give up steak, even if the planet really needs me to. BUT I do like to do my bit where I can. I try to choose low-impact meats such as chicken, kangaroo and rabbit rather than beef or lamb (which are more carbon-intensive and technically less earth-friendly).
I am a bit of a fan of author Rebecca Blackburn, who has written a book called Green Is Good, and she says if there is ONE thing we could all do to help the planet, it isn’t to recycle, it isn’t to stop driving – it’s to eat less meat. Rebecca was the first person who told me about the idea of “Meat Free Monday”. It’s for those died-in-the wool meat lovers who don’t want to ruin the planet. It simply means that one day a week, a family commits to eating vegetarian. Now that wouldn’t kill me (although Captain Dramatic would be moaning in the corner at such an idea).
Gwyneth has caught on to the idea too. This week in Goop, she writes:
“I am not a vegetarian, but when I heard about “Meat Free Monday,” I was intrigued. I had never thought about the environmental impact of raising livestock. Below are the facts presented by Paul McCartney,”.
” In 2006, the United Nations issued a report which stated that the livestock industry as a whole was responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole of the transport sector put together.
“I found this interesting particularly because people at the UN are not a vegetarian society and therefore, could not be accused of bias. They pointed out the following facts:
- The Livestock industry produces gases that are extremely dangerous for the future of our environment.
- The two main gases, methane and nitrous oxide, are considered to be more harmful than CO2 (methane is 21 times more powerful than CO2 and nitrous oxide is 310 times more powerful than CO2) so the data suggests that this is causing a highly dangerous situation for ourselves and, more importantly, for future generations.
- Methane also remains in the atmosphere for 9 to 15 years; nitrous oxide remains in the atmosphere for 114 years, on average, and is 296 times more potent than CO2 – the gases released today will continue to be active in degrading the climate decades from now.
- Livestock production is land intensive: a recent report by Greenpeace on land use in the largest meat producing state in Brazil found that livestock (cattle) production was responsible for vastly more deforestation than soya.
- A third of all cereal crops, and well over 90% of soya, goes into animal feed, not food for humans. Eating less meat will free up a lot of agricultural land which can revert to growing trees and other vegetation, which, in turn, will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Livestock production is water intensive: it accounts for around 8% of global human water use. The estimated 634 gallons of fresh water required to produce one 5.2 ounce (150g) beef burger would be enough for a four-hour shower. For comparison, the same quantity of tofu requires 143 gallons of water to produce.
- Livestock production is the largest source of water pollutants, principally animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures.
- The meat industry is set to double its production by 2050 so even if they manage to lower emissions by 50%, as they have promised to, we will still be in the same position.”
So when it comes to eating animal flesh do you reckon you could give it a miss? Could you join Gwyneth and give it up one day a week to make the planet a better place?