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Eating Less Meat and Dairy Essential to Curb Climate Change » EcoWatch

I read a book this year about helping curb climate change through better methods of rangelands management. It is really divisive to say “less meat and dairy” which sets people into defense of their choices.

Rather we should realize that overconsumption in general in all areas is the problem. Not population, diet, transportation etc but the ways these things are done.

Our ancestors ate meat (many of them, not all obviously). They did not in most cases eat 6 ounces of beef at every single meal.

We are using up multiple planets worth of resources because we do not make decisions from the perspective of being **functional parts of the systems we inhabit**.

Bison heal the soil. They are a keystone species of the prairie ecosystem. Once they were abundant in almost every state in the US. They and other meat food sources were managed so well by our ancestors that the invaders thought the land was in its wild “original form”; endowed by God alone with endless abundance.

Their mismanagement rapidly eradicated it. From passenger pigeons (now extinct) to the bison and wolves, manatee, dugongs, and many others-the invaders destroyed them en masse for “sport”, out of childish fear or spite; or to starve Native Nations in order to steal their land.

It’s not difficult to manage our impact on the systems we rely upon for our survival. It just requires a different worldview; one rooted in respect and relationship instead of fear and greed.

So, I want to share this because it is important that we address our collective impact-from our diets, our manufacturing, transportation, wars, agriculture-everything we do.

It isn’t important to argue ideology. That just wastes time and energy we are going to need to survive as a species and as individuals.

Personally, I have been a vegan most of my adult life. Not because I was scolded into the choice though.

I discovered factory farms and vowed to destroy them. I refuse to participate in anything that fundamentally evil. I would eat meat in a situation where it was necessary, where the animals were honored, respected and killed as humanely as possible; where everything from that animal was used in a sacred manner for our survival and where it was done for survival not for profit and greed.

We need to start enacting solutions and stop wasting time proving who is the dominant primate (ie who is Right!).

Everything is going to change. Whether we CHOOSE to change and innovate creative solutions together or drag our feet arguing over details until Mama Gaia’s changes eradicate our ability to keep doing what we are doing now.

I prefer the comfortable route of creativity. Disaster movies are ok to watch but living them? Not so much!

As for diet-it’s easy and fun to change and explore new cuisines. It’s one more way to become more mindful and joyful; to enjoy living our lives more fully in the moment.

But no one changes from guilt, worry etc. People are pulled toward joy far more easily than away from pain.

It’s no fun thinking GMO’s, pesticides, cancer, autoimmune diseases, global warming-what the hell can we still eat?!?!

So if this article inspires any interest in reducing animal consumption-try checking out some of the awesome foodie blogs that cover vegan diet, especially when they share recipes for so many interesting, fun foods.

Think about learning the food and cultures from around the world as an adventure- opening a new perspective-not as a punishment the oil barons have inflicted on us.

Eating Less Meat and Dairy Essential to Curb Climate Change

Anastasia Pantsios |December 5, 2014 3:52 pm

You probably know more vegetarians than you used to. You may even know some vegans—people who eat no animal products, including eggs, butter, milk and cheese. But did you know that their dietary habits may beessential to save the planet? A new research paper from UK think tank Chatham House, Livestock—Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector, explains why itmay be necessary for a lot more people to go vegetarian or at least dial down their consumption of meat and dairy products, and how to get them to do that.

LivestockRaising livestock for meat and dairy comes at high cost to the environment. Photo credit: Shutterstock

You may have laughed at the idea that cows and cattle are a major producer of the greenhouse gas emissions that causeclimate change. Unfortunately for the steak lovers out there, it’s true. Climate-impacting emissions are produced not just by the animals’ digestive systems, but also by the fertilizers and manure used to produce feed and the deforestation taking place to provide grazing lands. To add insult to injury, livestock animals consume large amounts of water, agricultural and land resources that could be deployed to support a higher quality of life for humans.

Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, the study says, account for about 14.5 percent of the global total, more than direct emissions from the transportation sector and more than all the emissions produced by the U.S., the world’s biggest economy. And it’s probably impossible to keep global temperature increases under 2 degrees Celsius, the commonly cited goal to prevent unstoppable global warming, without addressing livestock production—and global dietary trends.

Those trends illustrate that the demand for livestock products and meat consumption are increasing in countries like China as more people become more affluent. Currently, the biggest meat-eating countries are China, EU, U.S. and Brazil; major dairy consumers are China, India, EU and U.S. And consumption of meat is expected to grow 76 percent by 2050 with dairy consumption projected to increase by 65 percent. Growth in meat consumption in China is projected to be over four times that of the next fastest-growing consumer, Brazil.

“Our LiveWell project has shown we can cut a quarter of our climate emissions from the European food supply chain by eating more pulses, fruit and vegetables and by reducing our meat consumption,” Brigitte Alarcon, sustainable food policy officer at WWF, told The Guardian of London. “National governments should improve food education to encourage healthy eating habits and environmental sustainability as a first step.”

But the study says that governments and environmental groups have, for the most part, been reluctant to address meat-eating, compared, for instance, to high-profile campaigns on palm oil use.

“A number of factors, not least fear of backlash, have made governments and environmental groups reluctant to pursue policies or campaigns to shift consumer behavior,” it says. That means being mocked as a back-to-the-earth hippie type who probably listens to jam bands and makes tie-dye garments in the kitchen sink—with organic dyes.

Yet “Individual and societal behavioral changes are essential to moderate consumption of meat and dairy products,” it said. “This in turn will require a greater level of public awareness and understanding of the links between diet and climate change, to both enable voluntary lifestyle changes and ensure acceptance of, and responsiveness to, government policies. However, insufficient attention has been devoted to raising public awareness and preparing to shift societal behaviors.”

MostMeatEatersMeat-consuming countries contribute an outsized share of greenhouse gas emissions. Image credit: Chatham House

On a positive note, it suggested that people were generally unaware of how livestock contributed to climate change compared to their awareness of other factors. And when they did become aware, they were more likely to cut meat consumption. People’s first considerations were likely to be taste, price, health and food safety, which suggests strategies that could be employed in getting people to reduce meat consumption by emphasizing other factors in addition to climate change. And since awareness of, and concern about, manmade climate change especially high in emerging economies whose meat-eating is growing, there’s reason for optimism.

“It is encouraging that some of the greatest potential for behavior change appears to be in countries of most importance to future demand for meat and dairy—Brazil, China and India,” the study concluded. “Respondents in these countries demonstrated high levels of acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, greater consideration of climate change in their food choices and a greater willingness to modify their consumption behavior than the average of the countries assessed.”