Many of you will have probably noticed that on Monday your burgers disappeared to be replaced by tofu and noodles. This wasn’t a glitch in the cafeteria menu, but a campaign by the Green Committee to encourage us all to eat more sustainably. What’s the point? Well, here are 6 reasons why Meatless Mondays are a small step everyone should take to lessen their environmental footprint.
- Raising farm animals contributes to greenhouse gas emissions
Livestock contribute vast amounts of methane and nitrogen dioxide to the atmosphere. In fact, raising livestock has contributed more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all planes, and trains, and automobiles combined.
- Less livestock means more land available to grow food for a rising global population.
Vegfam says that ‘a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soybeans, 24 people by growing wheat, but only two by raising cattle.’.
Also by getting our intake of protein through plants rather than through cattle we could potentially free up 2.7 billion hectares of land, not including the millions of hectares used to grow crops to feed livestock. With the global population rising we need all the available land we can get and reducing meat consumption is one way we can make that land available.
And before you say ‘If I didn’t eat the meat someone else would’, that’s not the point. If we collectively reduce the amount of meat we eat, this reduces the demand, and so growing livestock will be less profitable and more farmers might switch to growing veggies instead.
- Less meat means more food for the hungry
There are around 795 million people in this world who do not get enough to eat. Yet, we continue to feed cattle and other livestock vast amounts of grains everyday. Some estimates say it would take 40 million tonnes of food to feed the most starving of people, yet we feed livestock over 20 times that amount.
Yes, not all food fed to livestock can be fed to people, but still it’s ridiculous that livestock is raised on crops which could be used satisfy the basic hunger needs of millions around the world.
- Saving water
Feeding livestock is incredibly resource-intensive, and very wasteful. If you want to save water, other than reducing your shower time, being a vegetarian is very effective.
Also on the subject of water, cattle farms are incredibly polluting to our water systems. Cow manure contains lots of nutrients which, in large quantities, flow into our rivers and water systems and promotes to the growth of algae and thus unbalances aquatic ecosystems, potentially causing the loss of species.
- Reduces the chances of superbugs developing
In many farms cattle and other livestock are kept in pens very close together. When you have thousands of animals in close confinement it is inevitable that disease spreads. In order to keep animals healthy, farmers feed their livestock antibiotics. Although this keeps the animals ‘healthy’ in otherwise unhealthy conditions, it also means that intensive animal farming is a perfect environment for antibiotic resistant superbugs to develop, which can then be passed on to humans through the meat itself.
- Reduces the suffering of animals
Everyday thousands of animals are subjected to atrocious conditions from the moment they are born to the moment they are slaughtered. This is not a life any being, human or otherwise should have to live. It is wrong to treat animals like this.
Although the alternative of free range farming is much better for the needs of the animals, it isn’t ideal on a larger scale as it involves even more land being taken up by fewer animals. The best option is not to eat meat at all
It’s up to you
Most people in this school have large carbon footprints. Even if your lifestyle doesn’t feel lavish, everything you do has an impact: from living in a big house, to buying clothes and technology, flying in planes, eating food grown in other countries, and even just driving a car. Cutting meat out of your diet is one of the simplest things you can do to compensate. It’s very easy and does wonders for your health. If you didn’t fancy the tofu burgers (even the most hardened vegetarian can admit they’re lacking texture-wise), luckily, you’re still spoilt for choice. It’s easier than ever to be a vegetarian, and it will never curb your dessert-eating abilities. 🙂 Vegetarians tend to live longer, and are at a much lower risk of heart disease.
Please note that we acknowledge a meat free world is unrealistic as some groups of people (such as pregnant women) require meat in their diets for health reasons. We are trying to encourage the reduction in meat consumption in order to benefit the environment. Also our consumption products such as milk and eggs has an impact on the environment but farming cows for dairy alone has a far lower impact than for beef production.
The information presented in this article does not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of The Update. We are reporting either the facts or opinions held by third parties related to the subject of the article.