Our new Food Guide is here, with profound changes. We are finally being asked/educated/made aware of the harmful effects that eating animals has on both our health, and our planet. Here are a few, in summary:
- The environmental impact is huge
Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.
- 2. It requires masses of grain, water and land
Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still. The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.
- It hurts the global poor
Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops. If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.
- 4. It causes unnecessary animal suffering
If we accept, as many people do, that animals are sentient creatures whose needs and interests matter, then we should ensure these needs and interests are at least minimally met and that we do not cause them to suffer unnecessarily.
Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors. In short, industrial farming causes animals to suffer without good justification.
- It is making us ill
At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry.This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
It’s a BIG change for most people. It does not have to be all or nothing. Start slow, if you are ready for a change. Decide to stop beef first, and eat meat only at one meal. Incorporate more fish into your diet; it is not as hard on the planet. Slowly add legumes, your body will learn to digest them.
Purchase your poultry and eggs from local farmers; it will not be as inhumanely raised and slaughtered. Do not purchase cows milk at all. Eat less cheese; go for faux cheeses.
Please give me your feedback as to how you feel about a transition, and we will modify your meal planning!
Consider a change; for your planet, our animals and your own personal health!