Sustainability Sunday #26
We kinda need to chill out on eating meat…
I am basically in love with burgers (especially you, Honest Burgers) but I also love nature and the planet we live on. We are now on a serious trajectory to a climate in which everything changes, and as most of you already know, we as individuals can actually help to make a difference. One of our greatest impacts as consumers is our heavy demand for meat.
Each year the livestock sector globally produces 586 million tons of milk, 124 million tons of poultry, 91 million tons of pork, 59 million tons of cattle and buffalo meat, and 11 million tons of meat from sheep and goats. These are numbers that I can’t even begin to compute. Do we really need this much? There was a time, way back when, when humans ate meat once every couple of weeks when the hunters of communities would bring home a feast, but in between meaty meals of deer and wolves humans were essentially vegetarian. And guess what? We’re still here. Our taste for meat has evolved through purely that, taste, rather than a necessity for meat protein in order to survive. The average meat-eating human now consumes meat in 14 out of 21 meals a week (based on 3 meals a day), and typically eating 3-4 times our required daily amount of 50kg. This growing consumption level is affecting the planet very seriously.
Rearing livestock for food uses a significant amount of land, food, energy and water. To put it into perspective:
Producing just one burger uses as much fossil fuel power as a small car needs to travel 20 miles
A single pig factory produces as much waste as 12,000 people
If we continue at our current rate of demand and in turn, production, another 3 million square kilometres of forest will be cleared for farming. That’s 420,168 football pitches or an area equivalent to 93% of the Amazon Rainforest.
The meat industry as a whole produces the same volume of emissions as all the vehicles in the world.
What can you realistically do?
Replace some of your meat meals with veggie meals, one of my favourite go-to cookbooks is from Irish brothers David and Stephen Flynn called The Happy Pear which is full of tasty recipes for the newly converted vegetarian and they’ve another book just come out too which I’ve no doubt will be just as great.
Choose poultry and pork over beef and lamb (bye burgers 😢). Beef requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions.
Try vegetarian options from the menu when you go out to eat, if you’re not convinced you can make a yummy veggie meal by yourself, how better to make sure you’ll enjoy it than by having it made by a chef?
If you’re unsure how to transition to a lower meat diet, maybe begin by observing “meat-free mondays” even if it’s once a month. This will help you discover a delicious vegetarian world.