Vegetables_eating

Meat the planet

Eating too much meat, particularly the less lean cuts or the processed types, has been shown to be bad news for an individual’s health. Now a new report has itemised exactly how meat eating is also bad news for the health of the planet and suggests that we have no choice but to cut how much meat we are eating.

It all starts with a simple argument and then gets more detailed. The starting point is that eating plant products is better for the environment because eating meat just adds an extra step into the process. Animals that are consumed as meat have to eat plants so for humans to eat just adds an extra, heat generating and energy consuming, step to the process.

Beyond this simple perspective the authors of this new report outline exactly how much of a challenge to the environment is presented by large scale livestock farming.

In the first place, livestock farming raises “greenhouse gas” emissions. The stomachs of ruminants like cattle produce a lot of methane which they then belch into the atmosphere. Clearing forest for grazing land also increases carbon dioxide output.

Fertilisers used for intensive farming also are rich in nitrogen which when added to the soil produces the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. This nitrogen can also run off into rivers and upset the balance of that ecosystem.

Farming of course, is also a competitor with natural habitats and the human food system already consumes twelve per cent of all the world’s plants. The answer is not to do away with farming of course, but we need to be smarter. Using manure instead of nitrogen laden fertilisers would be a start as would be boosting agricultural productivity. In the end though, meat consumption juts has to be reducued.

If you are thinking that perhaps that this is all well and nice but I’ll still have my pork belly sheep’s shank quarterhouse cut crackling thankyou very much, then consider this: the authors of the report suggest that if we do not reduce growth in the meat production sector then livestock farming on its own will push the world near danger levels for habitat destruction by 2050. Now there’s a thought to chew on.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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