Every time we read an article about cutting down on meat, it makes us think, do we really need to reduce meat consumption? How would one person quitting meat help the world? Well, if your thoughts are on similar lines, you definitely need to give this article a read.
A recent study about the food industry and its effects on the environment was carried out by the scientific journal – Nature Food. The results of this study aren’t really shocking – they merely reinforce a fact we all are well aware of – meat farming is responsible for high greenhouse gas emissions. What’s startling is that the percentage of contributory pollution from the meat industry has soared in the past few years – it’s now 57%. On the other hand, the report also talks about the contribution of plant-based food to pollution, which comes to 29% only.
Why exactly are the numbers from the livestock industry so high? Firstly, because the population of the world has quadrupled over the past century. The number of meat consumers has soared, and even though many are consciously switching to plant-based food, the number just isn’t enough.
To meet the needs of the growing population, the livestock industry has scaled by huge numbers. The large volumes of food required to feed the ever-increasing livestock population, too, is a cause of concern. This livestock, in turn, generates large quantities of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.
Feeding the rising population isn’t going to be an easy task – the UN projects that food production from plants and animals would need to be ramped up by 70% by 2050 compared to 2009. The increased production of food would bring in a set of additional issues. Land-use changes would accelerate, further contributing to an increase in greenhouse gases.
These stats are sure to make us rethink our food habits and take action. Beef alone is a significant contributor to pollution, accounting for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This is followed by cow’s milk, pork, and chicken. There’s a stark difference between the emissions caused by meat and plant production. For a single kilogram of wheat, 2.5 kilograms of greenhouse gases are generated. On the other hand, one kilogram of beef results in 70-kilogram emissions.
While our food habits are our personal choices, we need to take a moment to sit back and think about the repercussions too. If every person decides to cut down on their meat intake (keep aside quitting it altogether), it would positively impact the environment. A major rethink of not only food habits but also farming practices is the need of the hour. If possible, go vegan and do your part – that’s the best alternative we can think of in times like these.
The pace at which these numbers are increasing is alarming. The future numbers aren’t positive indicators, and we need to urgently start thinking about ways to reverse the situation before it is too late. Climate change is real. And as they say, it’s better late than never. We need to act right now.
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