How to make a difference? Eat Less Meat
Climate change seems overwhelming and beyond our control. 2017 brought hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, earthquakes in Mexico, raging wild fires in Oregon, Minnesota and California, flooding southeast Asia drowning thousands of people. What will 2018 bring?
Last year proved that we cannot wait for government or politicians to address climate change. The good news is that we can take individual action. Eating less meat is a way to do something about climate change. Even if only once a week. Joining the global Meatless Monday global campaign makes a difference.
Consumption of meat and dairy is a major driver of climate change. Changing global demand for meat and dairy can improve our planet’s health.
Imagine if all 340 million people in the US were part of the Meatless Monday global movement? Giving up meat one day a week would make a significant difference. NRDC estimates that if every American eliminated just a 1/4 pound serving of beef per week, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced to the equivalent to taking 4–6 million cars off the road.
Not only is less meat better for the planet, it’s better for us as well. Eating less meat also leads to better health.
- Eating less meat and more plant foods (grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds) instead, reduces the risk of chronic disease.
- Meatless meals are more affordable
Meals that are built around vegetables, beans and grains tend to be cheaper than meals built around meat. It can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget, going meatless once a week can save money for the purchase of more of fruits and vegetables.
- Meatless meals increase food security
If current crop production used for animal feed and other nonfood uses (including biofuels) were targeted for direct consumption, some 70 percent more calories would become available, potentially providing enough calories to meet the basic needs of an additional 4 billion people, reducing world humber.
It can take up to 12 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef. Some 800 million people on the planet suffer from hunger or malnutrition, yet an amount of cereal that could feed three times this number of people is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens.
What to do?
Be part of climate change solution by
- Reducing demand for animal-based food products. I alternate vegetarian and non-vegetarian days
- Increasing plant-based foods in our regular diets. Ethnic foods are a marvelous way to enjoy delicious meatless meals: curry, Indian dahl, Moroccan chickpea tagine
- Replacing ecologically-inefficient ruminants (cattle, goats, sheep) with poultry, and fish. I plan our meals to have fish once or twice a week and poultry (chicken or turkey once a week.
- When we do eat beef, I always try to buy grass-fed beef. Another great option is bison, which I can get at our local Farmer’s Market.
“Consumers can also reduce the carbon footprint—and other environmental and health impacts—of their beef by buying meat that’s been certified as having been produced on well-managed ranches and farms.”
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