By Fredrica Syren:
Many people ask me why my family and I are vegetarians. The answer is for health, because we love vegetarian food, for animals’
rights, and – a main one – for the environment.
As reports about climate change (extreme weather due to global warming) are being presented, people are becoming more aware and willing to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint. According to a new report published in the Journal of Climatic Change, one major thing we can do is to eat more plant based food. Researchers have found that meat eaters’ carbon footprints are twice that of vegans.
According to an analysis performed by Goodland, with co-writer Jeff Anhang, an environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, 51% of the worldwide green gas emissions is attributed to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry, camels and pigs.
Why is the meat industry causing so much damage to our planet? According to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalency than transport and is also a major source of land and water degradation. In today’s society, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons in 1999/2001 to 465 million tons in 2050, resulting in the global livestock sector growing faster than any other sub-sector. Over 30% of the earth’s
entire land surface is used to produce feed for livestock and is the major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America. The livestock business is damaging to the environment because it causes major water, air and land pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, and fertilizers and pesticides used on feed crops. And a huge volume of water is used for the production of feed.
The problem is that most of us grew up hearing non-stop how milk and meat are so important to our health. For some, this habit is hard to change, and change can’t be forced. Rather, suggestions can be made and people can be educated. I think that saying we all need to become vegetarian or vegan is wrong; instead, meat eaters should be encouraged to be responsible and aware. They should be motivated to eat meat from organic sources, to eat less of it, and to have meatless days. Instead of blaming, let’s talk about eating less meat and dairy, and start from there for a healthier planet and a smaller carbon footprint.