Cutting Emissions by Cutting Meat
by dylan.grieve on November 25, 2016 - 6:30pm
Every day we make decisions in our lives that can either leave an impact on the environment or not. Businesses and media tell us how we can lower these environmental impacts every day. We can swap out light bulbs, take shorter showers, buy eco labeled foods, turn off AC and heating when we are not home, and support local businesses. What if all these environmentally friendly initiatives and consumer goods are doing enough? What if by simply cutting down on our meat consumption to follow the recommended health food guidelines could cut emissions by nearly a third by 2050. I think this is a consideration we need to ask ourselves on a daily basis when we decided to eat meat instead of a vegetarian alternative.
Fiona Harvey discusses the true impacts of meat consumption and the impact the adaptation of a vegetarian diet could have on reducing emissions. I think something as simple as transitioning away from meat, even if it is only a decrease in your daily consumption, is something everyone should do in order to achieve lower personal emissions. The cause of an increase in this issue as discussed is an increase in the middle class. This allows individuals to afford a more meat dependent diet leading to increased consumption. I think that the opposite should occur and the middle class should consume less meat, as the alternatives to equally good tasting food can be slightly more expensive then the often-bland tasting vegetables we are used too. In addition to the benefits seen in emissions reduction transitioning away from meat also has other benefits according to Harvey. Harvey quotes Dr. Marco Springmann (who studies dietary changes and the impact they have on climate change) saying that over consumption of meat, especially red meats and processed ones are the largest health burden of our time.
In addition to the points Harvey brings up the large amount of water usage cattle raising requires furthers the argument of a transition away from meat. The documentary Cowspiracy discusses the large amount of water involved in animal agriculture. One major taken away from the documentary is that eating one hamburger takes 660 gallons of water, which is the equivalent of 2 months of showering. This means that from a management of water perspective over consumption of meat is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to protect such a precious resource to Canada.
Once all of the negatives regarding meat consumption and especially red meats are understood it is difficult to rationalize its benefits. I as well as Harvey do not expect people to become vegan or even vegetarian over night. If on a daily basis people remind themselves of the impact of eating meat as well as the simple alternatives it is a very easy solution to water management as well as cutting down our daily emissions.
Andersen, K., & Kuhn, K. (Directors). (2015). Cowspiracy: The Sustainable Secret [Motion Picture].
Harvey, F. (2016, March 21). Eat Less Meat to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming, Scientists Say.The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/21/eat-less-meat-vegeta...