Monthly eco-challenge: Eat less meat!
The "eco-foodprint" of eating meat has been underestimated and here are just a few examples:
- Cattle are producing 18% of all green house gases.
- 78% of all agricultural land is used for cattle (fodder and grazing).
- More than 2/3 of all agricultural production in Europe is used for fodder.
- To produce 1 kg of meat, you need 15.000 litres of water, while 1 kg of grain or potatoes only need 1.000 litres.
- Water pollution, deforestation, energy use, air pollution, loss of biodiversity, more waste and antibiotics in our food are but a few other negative effects on the environment (see the FAO document “Livestock’s Long Shadow” for more details).
- The well-being of the animals has often been totally neglected, especially in big farming industries
What can you do?
- Eat organic meat and meat from small-scale farming where the well-being of the animals has been taken into account.
- Eat less meat and replace it with alternatives like fish (see our sustainable fish guides), beans, peas, lentils, tofu, seitan, cheese, eggs or other sources of proteine.
- Alternate between different types of meat (the bigger the animal, the more it pollutes).
- Take smaller portions of meat when you eat it and "beef up" your plate with veggies instead.
- Try out all kinds of vegetarian dishes and be creative when you barbeque.
- Join in with the Donderdag Veggie Dag ("Thursday Veggie Day", introduced in Ghent by the Ethical Vegetarian Alternative)
- Or just go vegetarian!
If you want to know more on the impact of your diet on our planet, read Jane Goodall’s “Harvest for Hope. A Guide to Mindful Eating”. The book is also sold at Sunbeams events.
This article was originally published in the June 2009 edition of the Sunbeams newsletter.