Protectors of the Planet
Would you like to do everything in your power to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life?
Happiness undoubtedly comes from having a purpose and that, for most of us, is knowing that we can make a tiny bit of a difference to the planet and to animals.
This Twenty First Century world which is home to us all has become a world of consumerism - a throwaway society of dwindling rainforests, devastating hurricanes and plastic filled oceans. Fast food, consumerism and mass animal production have brought about a catastrophic abuse of the planet and it’s many species. People in industrialised countries now consume on average twice as much meat as deemed safe and in the US, almost three times.
However despite the doom and gloom, and the havoc wreaked on the planet, we can still be heroes, we really can reverse the damage and protect the planet for the future and the one thing that we can do, that we have absolute control over, is what we eat.
Food and climate change are inextricably linked; our diets have a huge impact on the environment with agriculture emissions accounting for around 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Although more sustainable farming processes will no doubt be introduced in the future, dietary habits need to change in order to avoid horrific consequences.
A couple of years ago, a study by Oxford University suggested that eating more plant based food could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by a third in fact. Cutting down on global meat consumption would also avoid $1trillion in costs associated with climate change and healthcare. And small changes can make a huge difference; 1kg of beef requires 15,000 litres of water, 30kg of carbon dioxide and 5 m² of land. On the other hand, 1kg of potatoes is requires 290 litres of water, 0.5kg of carbon dioxide emission and 0.6 m² of land. According to Dr Marco Springmann, author of the Oxford University report, a person’s diet greatly influences their own personal health as well as that of the global environment. Researchers found that leading a vegan lifestyle would save 8.1million lives by 2050, while vegetarianism could save 7.3million. And simply following the minimum global dietary guidelines could save 5.1million deaths.
Over to you…
It may, at first, seem hard to make the shift from a traditional meat eating diet, however, even reducing meat by, for example, one day a week, can have a dramatic impact on the planet, not to mention your own health.
The key then, could be what’s known as, ‘flexitarianism’ – whereby people reduce meat and opt for a predominantly vegetarian or vegan diet but without the pressure of a more dramatic change, as it’s sometimes viewed by meat eaters.
Nicholas Hewitt, Distinguished Professor at Lancaster University Environment Centre, said that the Oxford University study embodies a number of other studies, including his own research.
"Consumer choices around food have significant impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. Eliminating meat from the diet can reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by about 35 per cent and changing from carbon-intensive beef and lamb to less carbon-intensive pork and chicken can reduce food-related carbon emissions by about 18 per cent.
Overall, changing to a vegan diet can reduce food-related emissions by about a quarter, which in the UK represents about 40 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions every year. This is equivalent to about half of the total CO2 emissions from the entire UK passenger car fleet….
…If society is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, then we should be trying to make savings in every area of our day-to-day activities, including in our diet."
The power really is in our hands. How exciting is that?!