Daniel 1: 12
“Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink.”
Carnivore or vegetarian? Think about the mighty plains of the Serengeti, how many lions can they support per square km, and how many buck? The reality is that it takes a lot more land to support a meat diet than a plant based one.
Historically, before the time of fridges, meat was a special event, a chicken or goat would be slaughtered when visitors came, or a cow or goat for a great celebration of feast day. Now for the growing middle class, meat is a regular part of daily life, and this is detrimental both for the planet and for our health. Just as we see soaring rates of diabetes, we are also making our planet sick.
The drive towards lower-cost meat and milk is leading to intensive farming. To maintain low running costs, some farming practices restrict animal behaviour and compromise their health and welfare.
A 2020 report from IDTechEx found that the meat industry is unsustainable, since animal livestock uses a disproportionately large amount of land. Despite using 77% of agricultural land, only 17% of global caloric consumption comes from animals.
As outlined in our open step on controversies in the food system, livestock production methods are considered one of the main drivers of environmental damage, including climate change and biodiversity loss.
Cattle in particular need a lot more land than crops. We can feed many more people from the same land a vegetarian diet than beef. This has huge implications on global food security. Globally much of the ‘cheap’ beef used in fast foods is contributing to deforestation as forests in the Amazon are turned to cattle ranching or soya production for animal feed.
Estimates suggest that around half of the planet’s habitable land is used for agriculture, with roughly 77% of this used by grazing cattle, sheep, goats, and other livestock.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Meat consumption is responsible for releasing greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2, and nitrous oxide. These gases contribute to climate change, such as global warming. Animals such as cows and sheep create large amounts of methane as they digest food. Manure also releases methane. Many fertilisers used in soybean production (for cattle feed) are nitrogen-based, and these produce nitrous oxide emissions.
Raising animals often requires a lot of grazing land. However, the intensive nature of this grazing can lead to bare soil, which is then often lost due to wind or rain. As a result, fertile lands become barren, waterways become clogged, and there is an increased risk of flooding.
Soil is also a large reservoir for carbon, absorbing it as plants and trees die. As soil is lost, it releases that carbon as CO2 into the atmosphere.
It basically takes 7 kilos of grain to produce one kilo of beef. That is why there are far fewer lions than buck in the Serengeti!
All of us can move towards a more plant-based diet. Meat free Mondays. Fish on a Friday, go plant based for Lent, take up the Daniel challenge of ten days of vegetarian food. Go vegetarian Mondays to Fridays.. Little steps that can have a big impact.
Today’s challenge, find a really yummy vegetarian recipe, with easy to find ingredients which is quite quick to make and share it with us in the comments!
We often thing vegetarian food is boring, but there are some really yummy recipes out there – we just need to find them and share.
Here is my personal favorite:
“Sticky Cauliflower wings” – it is yummy!
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