It may have been a fantastic meat free start to the year in Britain, but the world as a whole needs to do more to curb the environmental impact of livestock and dairy farming – much more. According to Greenpeace, cutting our meat and dairy consumption in half is key to improving the health of people and planet.
A new report and campaign by the environmental group finds that slashing our meat intake by 50 per cent by 2050 is an important way to stop the worst effects of climate change, and the best way to alleviate a raft of health issues linked to eating too much meat.
The report – Less Is More: Greenpeace vision of the meat and dairy system towards 2050 – claims that unless the way we farm for food changes radically, then agriculture will soon be responsible for pumping out 52 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The report states that animal products are already responsible for approximately 60 per cent of food-related climate emissions and warns that “[if] we do nothing, by 2050 gas emissions from the food system will represent more than half of the total global emissions associated with human activities”. The number of chickens, pigs and cattle slaughtered per capita more than tripled between 1961 and 2009, and around 80 per cent of all threatened terrestrial bird and mammal species are threatened by agriculturally driven habitat loss.
Cutting meat and dairy consumption in half would not only produce a cleaner environment but save millions of lives a year, as fewer people would be developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease, or becoming obese – all linked to a high consumption of red meat. It would also mean countries such as America would have no reason to keep using as many antibiotics to keep livestock healthy in unsanitary battery conditions. Such overuse of antibiotics in farm animals has led to the rise of drug-resistant “superbugs”, which the World Health Organization has declared a “global health emergency”.
As part of its Less Is More campaign, Greenpeace is now calling on governments to stop promoting meat and dairy-focused policies and instead support growing crops for humans, rather than to feed animals. It also wants to see healthy, plant-based foods made more widely available. It is urging people to stand up and be counted in this battle for a cleaner, greener planet – and it almost goes without saying that one of the easiest ways to do that is to join Meat Free Monday.
“Industrial meat and dairy has an outsized impact on the environment – it’s a major contributor to deforestation, climate change and water pollution, and it harms our health,” said Dawn Bickett, Greenpeace International’s global engagement lead for the Less Is More campaign. “Eating less meat and dairy and more local, ecological, plant-based foods helps bring our planet back into balance, and Meat Free Monday has excellent resources to get started. We are proud to stand with Meat Free Monday in the growing movement to eat more plant-based foods and decrease our meat and dairy consumption.”
A new cookbook, Recipes for a Healthy World, has been created to support the campaign, featuring recipes from professional and amateur chefs from around the world. You can check out one delicious offering, Quinoa and Seaweed Croquettes with Summer Salsa, created by veteran Greenpeace ships’ chef Daniel Bravo Garibi, on the MFM website now.