Most of my close friends are concerned about climate change and the impact these changes will have on their children and eventually, grandchildren. Several have taken active steps to make changes in their lives to reduce the impact they have on our beautiful planet.
But there has been little in the climate change literature, until somewhat recently, about the impact the consumption of meat has on the climate. This growing, global phenomenon is having catastrophic effects.
For example, according to an article in the Guardian, in 1982, the average Chinese person ate just 13kg of meat a year “and beef was nicknamed “millionaire’s meat” due to its scarcity.” The average Chinese person now eats 63kg of meat a year, with this amount expected to increase another 30kg per person by 2030 if nothing is done to divert them from this path (China is in the midst of implementing guidelines that will attempt to reduce the national consumption of meat by 50% both to aid the environment and to improve the health of their people).
The fact is, globally, 15% of greenhouse gases emanate from the raising and consumption of cows, chickens, pigs and sheep — more than the emissions from the entire transportation sector. Factory farming, from the raising of the toxin-laden, GMO corn that feeds most of these animals to the methane the animals themselves produce in the way of gas and waste, not to mention the energy needed to slaughter, process, freeze and transport this meat around the country and the world, contributes greatly to this problem. Factory farming — one of the most grotesque and inhumane forms of business in existence — has made it possible to make most meat afforbable to most income classes, thus increasing demand and consumption.
And yet, the public remains largely, woefully, ignorant of these statistics (thank you powerful meat and corn lobbies) – even among people fairly well-versed in climate change literature.
If people simply scaled back their meat consumption to once or twice a week — a diet by the way that was the norm for all but the wealthiest of families in America a mere 60-70 years ago — we could reduce the production of greenhouse gases by more than a 1/4 (according to the Chatham House study out of the UK).
Although recycling, walking more than driving, limiting air travel to all but the most essential, building energy efficient homes and offices, consuming less material goods, growing and eating locally, adopting permaculture methods for our gardens and yards, composting, etc. all aid our planet, the mere act of reducing your meat and egg consumption will have a much greater and more immediate impact.
Think about it.