Want to save the planet? Then you should be eating less meat.
According to a climate think tank, switching to a veggie-based diet will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global warming from increasing to dangerous levels.
The report, Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption, comes from the international affairs think tank Chatham House. It argues that by eating less meat we will not only be saving our planet, but will also make us healthier.
With international climate talks in Paris only a week away, the international spotlight is more focused on climate change than ever before. The aim of the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) is to find a way of limiting global warming to a dangerous rise above 2C.
According to the report, in order to keep the Earth’s temperature at 2C, all countries must adhere to consuming less meat.
“The overall message is clear: globally we should eat less meat. Global per capita meat consumption is already above healthy levels, critically so in developed countries,” said the report. “We cannot avoid dangerous climate change unless consumption trends change.”
The livestock industry is responsible for 15 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, thanks to the cutting down of forests for farmland, the transport of feed and meat products and the gas released from the stomachs of farm animals, particularly cattle, sheep and goats.
Though switching to a plant-based diet makes most sense for both ethical and health reasons, the study says the demand for meat is growing worldwide, with consumption expected to grow by 76 per cent by 2050. Yikes.
“Reducing meat consumption is a real win-win for health and for the climate,” said co-author Laura Wellesley, who hopes that governments will intervene to encourage a more veggie diet. “As governments look for strategies to close the Paris emissions gap quickly and cheaply, dietary change should be high on the list.
“Raising awareness about the health and environmental impacts of meat is an important first step, but on its own it will not lead to significant behaviour change. Governments must do more to influence diets.”
This year’s U.S. Dietary Guidelines do recommend more plant-based foods, but with our planet at such a critical point, it’s not nearly enough.