Currently, there are approximately 7.2 million adults following a meat-free diet in the UK. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be one of them, I probably would have laughed at you, while taking a bite of a bacon roll! But after doing some research on the meat industry, it didn’t take me long to discover that reducing our meat and dairy consumption is one of greatest individual changes we can make to help tackle climate change.
So, what impact is the meat industry having on the environment?
The meat industry is the biggest cause of deforestation around the world. Although the meat in our supermarkets may be from the UK, a large amount of animal feed is grown on land in the Amazon that has been deforested. This not only causes destruction to wildlife and habitats, but has a huge impact on global climate change.
An enormous amount of water is needed for livestock to drink, as well as to grow food for them. It takes about 1,695 litres to produce one quarter-pounder burger (UN News). As fresh water is a finite resource, and with more countries beginning to face water shortages, it is becoming increasingly important to preserve the fresh water we do have.
Globally, animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions – that’s more than all of the greenhouse gases released from all transportation combined! (FAO) In order to meet global greenhouse gas emission targets and reduce the effects of climate change, reducing our meat consumption is essential.
These facts can seem overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start. So, here are some of my starter tips for reducing your meat consumption:
Change in Mindset
It is easy to see going vegetarian or vegan as limiting certain foods, but instead think of it as a great opportunity to try new foods. It turns out vegetarians and vegans don’t just eat salad! Since giving up meat, I have found that I have hugely improved my cooking skills, whilst experimenting with lots of new recipes and foods.
Give Meat Alternatives a Go
As veganism and vegetarianism are becoming more popular, more and more restaurants and supermarkets are releasing meat alternatives. If you do find yourself with meat cravings, why not consider trying the Greggs vegan sausage roll or Quorn’s fishless fingers? You might be pleasantly surprised!
Although giving up meat overnight might work for some people, for most people this can seem pretty daunting. Why not try giving the ‘flexitarian’ diet a go and only eating meat on occasions? Or challenging yourself to have ‘Meat-free Mondays’? Don’t be put off if you struggle to give up meat completely. At the end of the day, if everyone reduces their meat consumption, it will have a much greater impact than having a handful of people who are completely meat and dairy free.