According to a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), livestock production contributes almost 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the estimated 14% produced by all forms of transport combined, including air travel.
About 26% of the world’s total ice free land is already being used for livestock grazing and over one third of the total cropland is used to produce food for livestock and fish. More and more rainforest is being cleared to provide land – in the Amazon about 70% of previously forested land is used as grazing and much of the rest to produce animal feed. 40% of all crops produced today are used for feeding animals.
Compassion in World Farming estimate that, by halving their consumption of meat, the average UK household could cut emissions by more than they would achieve by halving their car use.
So if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, one of the simplest and most effective things you can do is to reduce the amount of meat you eat.
It takes at least six times the amount of land to feed a meat eater than to feed a vegetarian. In the UK just 2% of the population is vegetarian, but although none of us really need to eat meat every day, most people simply aren’t prepared to give it up altogether.
Buy grass-fed beef
Having one or two meatless days a week, buying meat and dairy products from animals reared on grasslands and, if possible, buying organic produce, are easy ways to make a difference and reduce your carbon footprint.
Changing to a diet containing more beans, nuts, fruit and vegetables can also improve your health, lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
In 2009 the city of Ghent in Belgium declared Thursday a voluntary meat-free day with restaurants, canteens and schools throughout the city offering vegetarian meals. Then in the UK Paul McCartney launched the Meat-Free Monday Foundation to encourage us all to reduce our meat consumption by having at least one meat-free day a week. Now there is a global Meatless Monday campaign active in over forty countries.
If you are getting resistance from the meat-eaters in the family, there are cookbooks out there that can help, for example Pulse: Truly Modern Recipes for Beans, Chickpeas and Lentils, to Tempt Meat Eaters and Vegetarians Alike by Jenny Chandler, or Proper Healthy Food: Hearty vegan and vegetarian recipes for meat lovers by Nick Knowles.
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