The Times of London just published a headline that stated: "Give Up Meat to Save The Planet."
Even former Vice President, Al Gore, who has made climate change his primary issue, has been criticized by animal rights activists for eating meat. Are meat eaters contributing to global warming anymore than a vegan that eats a bag of chips? Absolutely not. If anything, this post will show tips for eating meat if it's grass fed, grown locally, sustainably and organically; while addressing the issues concerning global warming and processed foods.
Meat isn't necessarily to blame for climate change.
None of us, whether we are vegan or omnivore, can entirely avoid foods that play a role in global warming. Singling out meat is misleading and unhelpful, especially since few people are likely to entirely remove animal-based foods from their diet.
It's true that giving up meat for a year is one of the greenest lifestyle changes you can make as an individual (an average of 176 pounds of meat!). You could drive a more fuel-efficient car, install compact fluorescent lightbulbs, take more canvas bags to the store, but unless you intend to personally hunt wild buffalo, there's really no green way to get meat — although organic, grass-fed, locally farmed meat is better than anything factory-raised.
Written by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report is the latest research linking meat-eating with environmental destruction. According to the FAO, the arm of the UN that works on worldwide hunger-defeating initiatives, animal farming presents a "major threat to the environment" with such "deep and wide-ranging" impacts that it should rank as a leading focus for environmental policy.
The FAO estimates that about 20% of the planet's pastureland has been degraded by grazing animals, and increased demand for meat means increased demand for animal feed — much of the world's grain production is fed to animals rather than to humans. (The global increase in grain prices over the past year is in large part due to the impact on grain supplies of the growing demand for meat.)
The mass production of meat has been facilitated by industrial feedlots, which flow in antibiotics and other toxic chemicals. The UN report calls the livestock sector a "major player" in affecting climate change through greenhouse-gas production. The FAO found that the ranching and slaughter of cows and other animals generates an estimated 18 percent of total human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions globally. Greenhouse gases – such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide – are linked to global warming.
And of course, the human health impact of too much meat can be seen in everything from expanding waistlines in America to rising rates of heart disease in developing nations, where heart attacks were once rare.
Farmers are responsible for only a portion of the greenhouse gas emissions in the food system. According to the University of Wisconsin and the Soil Association in Britain estimates that only half of foods total greenhouse impact has any connection to farms. The rest come from processing, transportation, storage retailing and food prep. The seemingly innocent potato chip, for example, turns out to be an awful climate-hating food. Foods that are minimally processed, in season and locally grown, are generally the most climate-loving.
For those individuals who enjoy eating meat, I strongly urge you to skip a few days. We need to get away from this mass-produced, over-consumption-mentality, but in reality, having a steak or burger once in awhile won't kill our environment. Certainly be sure that that meal is worth it: take a few extra minutes to do your research. Most restaurants are more than happy to let you know where the meat is from and if it's organic or not. It actually matters to them too, especially when it comes to taste!
Farmers Markets are everywhere now... look them up online and go shopping there- with a canvas bag or two- before going to your local grocery store.