Why Giving Up Meat Is Essential To Mitigate Climate Change

Meat consumption is a staple of the modern diet. In the developed world, meat consumption has been rising consistently for decades. In the developing world, people eat less meat as they cannot afford the high cost of it. The scale of global meat consumption has grave environmental effects and intensifies Climate Change. This is as, “the global production of food is responsible for a third of all planet-heating gases emitted by human activity” [1]. Therefore, it is reasonable to argue that the connection between meat consumption and the negative effects of Climate Change like global warming is something which needs to be explored in depth so we can understand how to reduce the risk of environmental catastrophe.

how giving up meat can reduce climate change impacts

Moreover, giving up meat plays an essential role in reducing the effects of Climate Change. The norm of meat consumption is environmentally unsustainable as, “cows, sheep and goats…still need lots of land for grazing” which could instead be used for planting more trees to absorb the high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a project which is crucial to curbing the effects of Climate Change [2]. In addition, “the carbon footprint of beef and lamb is roughly three times higher than that of pork, poultry or farmed fish per 100g of protein, and 24 times higher than pulses such as beans and lentils” [2]. This links with the disastrous impact of cattle farming on the environment.

Cattle farming causes natural habitat loss as more land must be cleared and deforested while carbon emissions keep increasing [2]. On a practical level, the campaign to reduce global meat consumption and save the planet is reinforced by the fact that beef production is associated with the loss of tropical forest cover in the Amazon rainforest [2].

Therefore, giving up meat is an important step from a moral perspective especially because of the effects of Climate Change. A meat-free lifestyle puts less strain on the environment as it significantly reduces the risk of deforestation and rising carbon emissions due to reduced demand for meat production. As a result, I believe giving up meat is crucial to reducing your carbon footprint and staying proactive in mitigating the effects of Climate Change.

Another reason why giving up meat is important in reducing the effects of Climate Change is because red meat is a key source of methane emissions. Methane, a greenhouse gas, is 23 more warming than carbon dioxide and directly contributes towards global warming, one of the significant repercussions of Climate Change [3]. A further consequence of meat consumption is livestock manure which is responsible for 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions [3]. Nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas, stays in the atmosphere for 114 years [4]. Nitrous oxide contributes to Climate Change by remaining in the ozone layer and causing global warming [4].

veganism-mena

From a consumer perspective, I recommend reducing meat consumption or opting for a meat-free diet as emissions of Methane and Nitrous Oxide will fall and this helps will lower the global risk of global warming and alleviate impacts of Climate Change.  My opinion can be backed up by evidence. For instance, “three of the world’s largest meat producers, JBS, Cargill, and Tyson, emitted nearly as many greenhouse gases as the biggest oil companies, including Exxon, BP, and Shell” [5].

Furthermore, giving up meat is crucial in reducing the effects of Climate Change as wasted meat ends up in landfill sites and releases large amounts of Methane, a greenhouse gas. For instance, “we waste an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year” and wasted meat leads to increased Methane emissions [6]. In turn, these emissions of Methane cause the percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to rise leading to global warming and exacerbating the effects of Climate Change. As both livestock manure and wasted meat deposited at landfill sites release Methane into the atmosphere, the risk to the environment is undeniable. So, another good reason to give up meat is to reduce air pollution caused by high levels of methane in the atmosphere.

food-waste

The environmental benefits caused by adopting a meat-free diet include less air pollution caused by landfill sites. In my opinion, this is a fantastic reason to opt for a meat-free diet. Not only does a meat-free diet reduce Methane emissions, but it also reduces air pollution which is responsible for millions of premature deaths every year and fueling Climate Change. As such, “to combat the climate emergency and help protect our environment, we all need to reduce the amount of food we waste” [6].

To conclude, giving up meat is essential to reducing the long-term effects of Climate Change. Meat consumption is strongly linked to environmental problems like deforestation, natural habitat loss and the emission of Methane and Nitrous oxide, all of which cause the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. This links directly with Climate Change. Therefore, reducing your meat intake or becoming vegetarian or vegan is the first step to reducing the harmful effects of Climate Change.

Bibliography

[1] Milman O. Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production, study finds [Internet]. the Guardian. 2021 [cited 30 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/13/meat-greenhouses-gases-food-production-study

[2] Garnett E. Meat eating is a big climate issue – but isn’t getting the attention it deserves [Internet]. The Conversation. 2021 [cited 30 May 2022]. Available from: https://theconversation.com/meat-eating-is-a-big-climate-issue-but-isnt-getting-the-attention-it-deserves-170855

[3] Rysavy T. Go Vegetarian: Eat Less Meat to Cool the Planet [Internet]. Green America. 2017 [cited 30 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.greenamerica.org/eat-less-meat-cool-planet

[4] Overview of Greenhouse Gases | US EPA [Internet]. US EPA. 2022 [cited 30 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases

[5] Loria J. How Eating Less Meat Can Save the Planet [Internet]. World Animal Protection. 2021 [cited 30 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.worldanimalprotection.us/blogs/how-eating-less-meat-can-save-planet

[6] Tips to help you avoid food waste and reduce carbon emissions [Internet]. Energy Saving Trust. 2022 [cited 30 May 2022]. Available from: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/love-food-hate-waste/

About Nibras Malik

Nibras Malik is a second year Politics & IR student at Cardiff University. Her poetry has been published in Acumen and the Trouvaille Review. Her latest work is forthcoming with The Scarlet Leaf Review. Many of her poems incorporate environmental themes. Furthermore, she has been long-listed for the Felix Dennis Young Poets Competition 2020- an environmentally focused poetry contest. In her spare time, she enjoys nature and watching documentaries.
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