You’ve probably heard a lot in the last few years how we need to reduce our meat and dairy intake.
50% of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture and 77% of this is used to produce meat and dairy products.
Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production.
Beef alone accounts for a quarter of emissions produced by raising and growing food.
Paper published by Nature Food
Meat has become too cheap but that’s because we’re not paying the true cost for it. At the moment, farmers across the world are paid subsidies by their governments to produce meat that is affordable to the consumer.
After World war two governments relaxed regulations and gave incentives for farmers to produce as much food as possible. This meant trees and hedges being cut down to make way for more farm land and heavy machinery. This also means that more pesticides and fertilizers are used, which leads to poor soil health, less biodiversity and more greenhouse gases.
We are cutting down forests to make way for cattle and feed farms at an unsustainable rate. We have become so dissociated from nature that we don’t realise how much we need it to survive.
Forests, trees, hedges, plants, and grass provide homes for nature. As well as this, they provide us with food, fuel, medicines, household products and much more. They provide shelter, they hold onto soil when there’s floods or drought. They also help us to breathe and regulate gases in the atmosphere – taking in carbon dioxide and giving us oxygen. They also absorb other toxic gases. It really would be beneficial to have more trees and plants around our food crops.
The more nature we destroy, the less trees and plants there will be to absorb the greenhouse gases being produced by the extra farm animals being put on that land.
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture:
- 50% – agricultural emissions come from the digestive process of cattle
- 25% – management of soils
- 15% – fertilizer, animal waste spread on fields
- 10% – energy use – tractors, heating buildings
source – World Resources Institute
We need to reduce meat consumption by 20% to meet net-zero targets by 2050.
If everyone in the UK swapped just one more red meat-based meal to a plant-based meal per week, we would cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50 million tonnes.