How exactly is consumption of meat linked to climate change?
A friend asked me recently how exactly is the connection between our diet and environment.
Before we talk about the connection between our diet and climate change, let’s just have a brief look at what causes climate change. You probably know that climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gas emissions (with CO2 being the main driver) into the atmosphere. Because of this layer of greenhouse gas is getting thicker, which is in turn making the Earth warmer. But most of the release of greenhouse gas emissions is actually caused by human activities.
A simple google search can reveal lots of answers as to why consuming less meat is essential for combating climate change. Here I will also contribute to the facts I know (after doing some research over the past year and after being in the food &beverage industry for a while).
Contrary to many people’s belief that transport is the biggest cause to climate change, well, guess what! The global livestock industry actually produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined!
This is because these animals eat a lot, much like humans, they eat and fart and burp…a lot (lol), especially cows! When cows fart and burp they release methane, which is a strong source of greenhouse gas emission, although CO2 is the primary cause for climate change, but methane is more than 20 times more potent at attracting heat than CO2 ! Manure is also a huge cause for greenhouse gas emission.
Not just cows, other animals like cattle, pigs, sheep, chicken et cetera also contribute significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions! Also, it takes a lot of grazing, feed, energy and water to produce meat for food.
The reason why the governments have done little about the livestock industry (the Paris Treaty obviously didn’t seem to mention much about it at all...) and also why the livestock industry is still expanding quickly is because there is a huge consumption growth in meat especially in developing countries like China (very sad really!). When there is an increase in demand (of meat consumption), then there would be an increase in (meat) supply [economic 101]. The huge economic profit behind this industry is the main driven factor for the expansion of the industry, resulting people being ignorant about environmental sustainability.
(excuse my bad drawing...but I hope this diagram can better illustrate what I just said)
Of course, it is probably not very possible for the entire human race to convert to vegetarians/vegans (although it would be very cool!). However, it is possible for more people to consume less meat, if more people can give up eating meat for at least one day in a week, then it could make a huge difference considering we have 7 billion people on this planet!
Also there are lots of benefits associated with consuming less meat such as you are likely susceptible to cancer, heart disease, chronic diseases and other diseases (red meat is actually bad for you as they are high in saturated fat which raises blood cholesterol and also difficult for our human bodies to digest). I highly recommend you to read “the China Study” if you are still in doubts about why a balanced plant-based diet is actually very good for your health (and the environment and many other things!). "The China Study" is a book written by Dr Colin Campbell and his son, whom together had conducted an over 60 years study in China about people's diet. It is dubbed as the most compresive study on nutrition ever conducted. (The reason why he chose China was because at that time China has a very low rate of cancer and other wealth-related diseases. During that period, China was still very poor and eating meat was not in fashion at all! Most people just eat plant-based diet ^.^)
Apart from physical related disease, being a vegetarian can also make you a calmer, gentle and more compassionate person. I am not sure if you ever notice that big meat eaters tend to be much more aggressive and have a bigger ego... Yes, you are indeed what you eat.
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
If you are not convinced about what I said above, do the research yourself! I have also put down a few links below for your reference (VPN probably required):
For a comprehensive report, you can also read here www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf
Love, Peace & Bliss