Photo Cred: Pop Sugar, “The Veggie Burger Taco”
With advances in environmental science, it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh drives an industry linked to most categories of environmental destruction including poor air quality (more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation!), deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, climate change, biodiversity loss and even the spread of disease. Per-capita meat consumption has more than doubled in the past fifty years, even as the population of the world has continues to increase. As a result, the overall demand for meat has increased five-fold. This has put more pressure and urgency on the availability of land, water, feed for animal agriculture, fuel, capacity for waste disposal, and key limited resources. Only in recent years have environmentalists acknowledged that meat consumption is a matter worthy of analysis for its impact on the environment. And individuals world-wide are taking notice and personal responsibility for changing the tide of food sustainability.
The meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. Cutting out meat products even once a week can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Water requirements for livestock are formidable, far greater than those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into the production of a single pound of beef. By comparison, soy crops require 220 gallons of water per pound. Reducing personal meat consumption is a way to decrease fossil fuel demand. A plant-based diet consumes one and a half tons less than the average American diet and does more to reduce emissions than driving a hybrid car.
Commit. We are all, to some extent, creatures of habit. At times, you may be challenged by the inconvenience of sourcing out meat-free options, especially while travelling and attending social gatherings. It can help to let the people around you know of your commitment to reducing your meat consumption. It could very well
inspire them to take similar steps and their attention on the matter will help to keep you accountable!
Phase out meat. If you’re an avid meat-eater you can start out by replacing your smallest daily meal with a plant-based option once a week, for one month. The following month, trying upping the veg meals to twice a week, and so on. This approach will give your taste buds time to adjust.
Plan your meals. A simple search engine query for “easy vegan meals” (or vegan versions your favourite dishes) will guide your mission in the right direction. Don’t wait – none of us make good choices in the throes of hunger. Having a general idea of upcoming meals will allow you to shop and prepare accordingly. Worried about the exorbitant cost of trendy vegan fare? Stocking up fresh produce and quality flash-frozen fruits and vegetables will serve to sharpen your skills in the kitchen and save you money as you enjoy meals created just the way you like them.
With love and compassion,