Days 7 & 8 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living.
Weekend brunches. Summer holidays. Barbecues. Festivities. Sunday roasts. All times when meat tends to feature heavily on our menus.
Did you know, though, that meat consumption has tripled over the last forty years and is predicted to double by 2050?
Unfortunately, the massive increase in production and consumption of meat is not such a good thing. It is dramatically adding to climate change, as well as a raft of other harmful environmental and health effects (particularly for people who eat large quantities of meat).
What I do
- Eat less meat. Having grown up in a meat-eating household, I have shifted to only eating meat occasionally and more as a condiment than the main feature of a meal. Instead, I use other, mainly plant-based, sources of protein and essential nutrients.
- Measure my progress. Using an app helps me to track of my protein intake and impact on the climate.
There are so many reasons to eat less meat than you need to. Here are some of the bigger ones:
1. It reduces the increasing damage to our climate, and thus slows the unfolding consequences of that damage.
- Beef, lamb, venison, chevron and buffalo meat come from animals that produce methane as part of their digestive processes (in their rumens)…and methane has about 28 times the warming power of carbon dioxide (CO2) and is faster at warming than CO2). Other sources of meat result in less climate damage. More methane = worse and faster damage to our climate = worse and faster consequences of that damage.
- Depending on how it is stored and treated, animals’ manure and urine can result in nitrous oxide…which is nearly 300 times more potent and much longer lived than CO2. More nitrous oxide = worse and longer lasting damage to our climate = worse consequences of that damage.
- If artificial fertiliser is used to grow animal’s food, it results causes more of both methane and nitrous oxide. That’s because:
- artificial fertilisers are usually made from fossil gas (which is methane, which leaks into the atmosphere during extraction and transport), and
- application of nitrogen-based fertilisers to soil results in nitrous oxide.
- Increasing meat consumption means more land is needed to feed the animals we use for meat. Clearing forests and woodland for agriculture results in more damage to our climate as well as a raft of environmental and other impacts, including loss of biodiversity.
- Transport of animals and products from animals uses energy. Currently, almost all of the energy used for transport comes from fossil oil, which results in CO2. More CO2 = worse damage to our climate = worse consequences of that damage.
- Food made from animals needs to be kept cold, and that uses energy. Currently, most of the electrical energy used for refrigeration is made by burning coal and fossil gas and oil…and that results in CO2. More CO2 = worse damage to our climate = worse consequences of that damage.
2. It reduces use of fresh water (which is becoming more precious as global warming increases).
- Animals that are used for food consume a lot of water.
- The processes used to produce and process meat use even more water.
3. It can improve your health.
- Meat can be a good source of protein and other nutrients, but eating a lot of red and processed meats can result in many health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Damage to our climate is increasing, and increasing production of meat is a big part of that increase.
Dramatically reducing meat consumption (while ensuring adequate intake of protein and other nutrients) can dramatically reduce our damage to climate, environment and health.
How to eat less meat
Kangaroo is a source of red meat with much less damage to climate, broader environment and health than sources like beef and lamb. Like us, kangaroos digest their food in a way that does not produce large amounts of methane.
There is also an amazing array of recipes that use protein other than red meat or small amounts of meat only.
- Consider the tasty food from peasant cuisines from places such as the Indian subcontinent and the land around the Mediterranean.
- Try plant-based protein sources like pulses, nuts, seeds and grains.
- Vegan and vegetarian recipes are very useful.
Keeping a record of your progress is important for keeping on track for making long-lasting change. This is where the Climatarian Challenge app comes in handy.
Sharing successes can help keep you motivated and spread the word. On social media, use the hashtags #MeatFreeMonday (or #MeatlessMonday) and #Climatarian.
How many meals a week can you make with protein from sources that make low impact on our world?
Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.
So let’s embark on this journey together.
- Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
- Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
- Commit to taking action yourself.
- Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
- Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.
A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!