Let’s be honest, as many jokes as there are about how vegans brag about their diet, they do have the moral high ground. Vegans are literally saving the lives of animals and our planet every single day, and we could all stand to take a leaf out of their (cook-) book.
As we’ve been warned time and again, meat consumption has a big impact on the environment, and while as a single person it’s all too easy to think simply changing your diet won’t make a difference, we need to remember, every little helps.
Before writing this article my new year’s resolution was already to cut down on the amount of meat I consume, so now I’m more determined than ever – and you all need to join me!
As reported by The Guardian , research released over the last year has emphasised the huge impact eating meat, particularly beef and pork, has on the environment, through fuelling climate change and polluting landscapes and waterways.
Earlier this year it was reported the world is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, the likes of which hasn’t been seen for 66 million years, which could cause two thirds of the world’s species to become extinct.
Because of this crisis, as well as industrialised agriculture, livestock and humans now make up 96 per cent of all mammals.
Keegan Kuhn, who co-created the documentary Cowspiracy, told UNILAD:
"Right now we’re living in the largest mass extinction seen on this planet in 65 million years. The leading cause of species extinction around the world is raising animals for food. We clear massive areas of natural habitat for endangered and threatened species to make room for livestock. We wipe out the ability of those species to recover from imminent extinction."
The effects of deforestation to make room for livestock combined with methane emissions from cows and fertiliser use, results in the creation of as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the world’s cars, trucks and airplanes.
Meanwhile, meat rearing practices can cause significant pollution of streams and rivers, and ultimately the ocean.
According to The Guardian, in October, scientists warned massive reductions in meat consumption – we’re talking a 90 per cent drop in western countries – are necessary to try and prevent dangerous levels of climate change.
To help prevent the global temperature from breaching a 2C increase limit agreed by governments, researchers have said there needs to be a global shift to a ‘flexitarian’ diet.
Healthline describes a flexitarian diet as one which encourages mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation.
As well as simply encouraging people to eat less meat, suggestions such as taxing red meat and feeding seaweed to cows to reduce methane escaping in their burps have been put forward to promote a decline in meat consumption.
If there’s ever a time we need to work collectively to save the planet, it’s now, and cutting back on the amount of meat you buy and eat is the best way to make a change.
If you’ve not started already, make 2019 your year to start saving the planet!