World Environment Day - June 5th - Opinion piece

World Environment Day - June 5th - Opinion piece

Posted on Tuesday 4th June 2019

Categories: Farm Animals

To save the planet, we need to change the way we eat - Dave Neale, Animal Welfare Director of our member organisation Animals Asia, gives his thoughts on how our diets could turn the tide on environmental collapse

It has taken far too many years, and the dogged determination of a 16 year old girl from Sweden (Greta Thunberg) but it appears that more of us are now taking notice of the urgent need for us to change our behaviours to prevent the collapse of the environment as we know it.

The irreversible impact of our consumerism on the climate and its subsequent destructive impact on the natural environment is generating increasing debate both within society and within political circles. 

This may eventually lead to politicians globally legislating to help reduce the environment impact of consumerism. But we can not, and we should not, wait for politicians to act when we have the answers to the problems in our own hands, and all it will take is for us to adapt our daily lives and change our daily behaviours.

This may mean limiting our daily water usage, and making a concerted effort to use public transport rather than our gas guzzling cars, but one of the single biggest ways in which we can all reduce our environmental impact on the planet is by changing our daily eating habits.

Our desire to eat more and more meat is one of the greatest factors pushing our natural world towards a catastrophic end. 

Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation sources. Meat and dairy production is responsible for 60 per cent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the products themselves provide just 18 per cent of calories and just 37 per cent of protein levels around the world.

Livestock and the production of  livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land, with vast areas of natural forest being destroyed each day to provide more space for livestock and to grow food to feed to animals. Cattle ranchers have clear cut millions of square kilometers of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural “carbon sinks.

One-third of the worlds grain production is now fed directly to animals. This demand for land to grow feed is increasing the pressure on both natural habitats and already scarce grazing land. Grazing moves into marginal land where it leads to desertification and subsequently into forests and ecologically sensitive areas leading to further conflict with wildlife.

A meat diet is estimated to require 18 times more land than a vegan diet. Eliminating meat and dairy products from our diets could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food consumption alone by up to 73 per cent, and if everyone stopped eating meat and dairy products global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.  

Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction. Land that could be given back to the natural environment and help to sustain the many millions of animals and plant species that are currently tinkering on the edge of extinction. 

Whilst this ideal world where everyone lived from a plant-based diet is an unrealistic prospect, we must take individual responsibility for the devastation we are causing.

To save the planet, we need to use less water and reduce our use of gas guzzling transportation but we must also change our daily eating habits, and a vegan diet is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact, reducing greenhouse gases emissions,  global acidification, eutrophication, and freeing up land and water to be used as intended by the natural environment.

Saving the planet from ecological destruction is no longer a luxury it is a responsibility that we all have on our shoulders. Start today by eating less meat and dairy products each week, and by doing so you will play your part in reversing this destructive trend and help protect global biodiversity. Not only is eating less meat a healthy personal choice – it’s a change that can help protect the earth.

The answer is in the choices we make each and every day.

We are thankful for the great images in this article provided by Moving Animals - for more head HERE


Thinking about going veggie or vegan, but not sure where to start? Why not check out PETA's free starter kit?


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