Food, Farming and Defending the Planet
Friday 19th January 2018
Every year the Paper Round green team host a Sustainability Week and dedicate a whole day to food. This is not because we all loooovvvveeee our food, (although of course we do) but because what we eat can have a serious impact on the environment.
Working for Paper Round we all know (or at least we should!) about recycling, carbon emissions, our carbon footprint, and the impact our waste products have on the environment. However, you may not know that livestock farming is responsible for almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human-related activities! To put this into context, all transport related emissions - road, train, plane etc - is responsible for 13%. This means that every time you tuck into a yummy steak you are having almost the same effect on the environment, as you would do, by getting into your car.
I am not asking everyone to become a vegetarian, but simply to learn a bit about the effect livestock (and our demand for mass livestock farming) has on our environment.
Here are some facts relating to the harmful gases emitted by livestock
- Cows and sheep are responsible for 37% of the total methane generated by human activity.
- Methane has 25 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide and a single cow can produce 500 litres of methane a day.
- Nitrous oxide is almost 300 times as damaging to the climate as carbon dioxide and 65% of the total quantity produced by human activity comes from livestock, mostly their manure.
- Carbon dioxide is emitted when forests are cleared for grazing or for growing grain to feed animals. 1/3 of land is desertified due to livestock.
- By following a vegan diet, you can cut your own carbon emissions by 50%.
As I said we are not trying to make people do this, but we do want to make people aware of impact their eating choices have. Most of us (quite rightly) don't leave the lights on, are aware how transport harms the environment, and wouldn't leave the tap running. But most of us don't think twice about having meat with almost every meal.
As someone who loves steak, (and well, all meat) I used to think veganism and vegetarianism was just a fad. I didn't understand it and couldn't imagine not eating meat. However, a couple of years ago my boyfriend decided to become a vegetarian, because of the effect meat has on our planet. Living with a vegetarian, forced me to think more about the food I ate. I now very rarely eat meat and when I go out, I tend to order the veggie option. It was far easier than I imagined, so have faith - it is possible and honestly not hard!
And it is not just the gases that are emitted by livestock that have a negative effect on our planet, animal agriculture uses 1/3 of all the world’s fresh water, it is the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution and habitat destruction and the land use also has a negative effect on LEDCs.
So, if you can make one change this week, please try to have at least one meal that has no dairy or meat in it, or even better one whole day!