World Meat Free Week kicked off this week (11th- 17th June 2018). The campaign aims to get as many people as possible to replace ONE meal with a vegetarian or vegan offering instead of meat, to make a more positive impact on the environment. And an impact really can be made if you quit meat for just one meal.
According to the campaign, experts are recommending that meat consumption is halved in the developed world by 2050. But how much of a difference would it make to implement such a small change? If we replaced the next fifteen meals (three meals a day over the next five working days) with meat-free options instead, we’ll be saving the carbon equivalent of boiling 5,825 kettles. If we replace just one meat dish with a veggie choice this week, we are talking about the equivalent of boiling 388 kettles. It makes us turn my back on the ham sandwich we were planning for lunch.
It’s all too easy to discover how reliant non-vegetarians are on meat to get through the day. Picture the scene – you have an early start in the office so you skip breakfast at home. An hour later you reward yourself with a bacon sandwich from the café next door. At lunch time you’re so busy you wolf down a chicken salad while typing up your report. And you look forward to scoffing a chilli con carne when you get home in the evening.
That’s a lot of meat consumed and a lot of harm to our precious planet (not to mention the animals), but the meat fest you just witnessed above could have gone so differently, while dramatically reducing your carbon footprint. Instead, if you had chosen granola for breakfast, lentil soup and crusty bread for lunch and a veggie chilli con carne, you could have done your bit for our environment.
Eight billion animals are slaughtered for food each year in the UK. One meat free meal this World Meat Free Week is all it takes to help create a healthier planet. But enough of us have to hop on board to make a greater difference. Lentils, nuts, mushrooms, aubergine, texturised vegetable protein (TVP) – they are all good substitutes to create one meal that won’t make you feel guilty about the damage to our planet.
A vegetarian diet can help reduce your carbon footprint and contributes to helping to conserve land and water, while protecting the oceans. We’ve looked at five ways in which giving up meat helps the planet. Believe us, you’ll be researching ways of being creative with aubergines and kale in no time.
- According to the Vegetarian Society, livestock farming is responsible for almost 20 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions from human-related activities. Cows and sheep are responsible for 37 per cent of the total methane generated by human activity and methane has 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide. A single cow can produce 500 litres of methane a day (the second most dangerous greenhouse gas to damage the environment) which sits in the atmosphere for nine to fifteen years.
- Believe it or not, you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you can by not showering for six months! It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, while producing one pound of tofu requires 244 gallons of water. A single cow used for milk can drink up to 50 gallons of water per day (and double that amount in hot weather) and it takes 683 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk.
- It takes almost 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant-based (vegan) diet than it does to feed a meat-eater as the crops are consumed directly instead of being used to feed animals. A total of 70 per cent of all the world’s agricultural land is now used as grazing or for fodder production for livestock, according to VIVA, and millions of children in the developing world die from hunger – alongside fields of high-quality food, destined for the West’s farmed animals.
- According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), one of the leading causes of pollution in our rivers and lakes is runoff from factory farms and livestock grazing. Groundwater can become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses if it becomes contaminated. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says animals on U.S. factory farms produce about 500 million tons of manure each year. With no animal sewage processing plants, it is most often stored in waste “lagoons” or it gets sprayed over fields. Factory farms can spray liquid manure into the air, creating mists that are carried away by the wind to avoid reaching water pollution limits. People who live nearby are forced to inhale the toxins and pathogens from the sprayed manure. This fact alone makes us reach for a veggie burger.
- Friends of the Earth states that our diets laden with meat and junk food are linked to heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancer. The organisation believes that swapping to lower-meat and better diets in the UK could prevent an estimated 45,000 early deaths each year, and save the NHS more than £1.2 billion annually. The Vegan Society highlights that well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals – thus highlighting protein does not need to come from a meat source. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping fight against some of the biggest health issues including cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
By giving up meat, for either just one meal or longer, your move will reduce carbon emissions, improve your health (and help you feel better emotionally) and you will have saved gallons of water. If more people do the same this world meat free week, the future of our environment could look a lot more savoury. World Meat Free Week have produced this handy sustainability calculator to assess you impact.
Find out more about World Meat Free Week and get involved at https://www.worldmeatfreeweek.com/